The paper wall objects of Jae Ko and steel sculptures of Henny van der Meer come together to delightfully rich contrast and effect. These two artists keep the nature and structure of the materials they use central in their works. With infinite patience, Jae Ko folds paper, transforming it from its raw state to elegantly geometric forms striking in their vivid hues. Light and shadow as well jeweled tones enhance the intrinsic structure of paper in Ko’s pieces. Henny van der Meer bends, clips, slices, and welds steel, her material of choice, for days, building seemingly featherweight and ethereal sculptures that are a fantastical representation of natural growth processes.
Jae Ko (Pyongtaek, Korea, 1961)
Jae Ko makes startling three dimensional objects from immense amounts of paper, such as from rolls of calculator or crepe paper. Experimenting with texture, thickness, breadth and colour, she pushes the sculptural boundaries of the material. She tends to favour primary colours and darker tints, with recurring reappearances of yellows and reds. Beyond the dyes, she uses many types of ink, seawater, sand, and debris before baring her works to the effects of the sun. In these ways, she intensively manages the metamorphosis of paper to final, profoundly elegant forms. Ko has an affinity for coils, spirals, and other symmetrical forms that repeat and return to central points. These forms have their origin in topography and geology, but Ko also finds continual inspiration in the arresting juncture between human-designed architecture and the natural landscape.
Jae Ko trained at the Tokyo School of Art and Wakio University, also in Tokyo. In 1998 she moved to the United States, where she completed her Master of Fine Arts diploma. Since then, Ko has exhibited in some of the most significant art spaces in Japan, China, and the US. As an example, she was featured in the Force of Nature installation at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, some three years ago. Her piece involved an accumulation of hundreds of rolls of paper that slumped and settled against the wall of the museum. The starting point was the melting of the Antarctic ice cap. The Force of Nature project was to be found in the Flow exhibit in Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum in 2016, and this year at the Powerlong Museum in Shanghai.
Henny van der Meer (Honselersdijk,1951)
From an early age, Henny van der Meer could be found exploring the polders and other natural territories. This youthful immersion in these landscapes marked her, forming her artistic consciousness of nature and its requirements. She observed the direct link between the largest harvests of orchards and farms and programs of meticulous pruning and shaping that respected individual plants’ characteristics. She found this theme of constantly managing and tending to growth again later in gardens and public green spaces. She was struck by the dualism: the more heavily pruned the plant, the greater its growth. This dualism surfaces in her steel sculpture, as her work addresses the human attempt to harness nature, which ultimately resists such restraint. She slices, whittles, and pushes the steel into forms, while allowing the work to take its own directions and freedoms. The process becomes an ongoing setting and testing of boundaries, as under her deft hand bits of steel burgeon and propagate, becoming a light, all but floating, interconnected sculpture.
Van der Meer completed her studies at the Utrecht Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in 1983. From then onward her works have been regularly shown across the Netherlands. She has taken part in numerous group exhibitions, including, among others, the Catharijne Convent in 1997, the Gorcums Museum’s The Language of Steel in 1998, and the Kunstfrühling BBK exposition in Bremen in 2005. In 2014, her work was shown in Crete and Athens; in 2015, she was one of the artists selected for the Kunst uit Huis: Collectie Wilploo in the Stedelijk Museum of Schiedam, and this year, she joined the Beeldreflecties exhibition of the Nederlandse Kring van Beeldhouwers in Pulchri Studio of The Hague.