I will never forget Affordable Art Fair in Brussels in 2016 when a lightning struck me. I saw a beautiful piece of artwork in a clear acrylic box. A true play of light from the Korean artist Yong Rae Kwon. As I approached the person on the left side in the booth to ask for the price, a guy on the right side of the booth took the art work from the wall and handed it to an Asian looking person. I was dazed and disasppointed.
My art is light. I don’t try to represent light, but I try to make it linger. Light becomes before objects.Yong Rae Kwon
The years after the art work called The Eternal Flame-Silver 11 (60.5 X 90.3cm) stainless steel on canvas kept on going through my mind over and over again. So I decided to interview the artist who made the art work of my dreams Yong Rae Kwon. And I surely hope to be able to meet him some time in the future.
How would you describe your artwork?
YRK: “I always like to use this simple quote from Tanizaki Junichiro’s In Praise of Shadows, when I describe my work: ‘Find 美(Beauty) not in the object; It exists in the pattern of the shadows, the light, and dark which that thing provides.’ My artwork can be described as a process of making light and darkness. My goal is to turn this physical phenomenon of light into a spiritual experience, going beyond the property of matter. Light is a symbol and metaphor for the spiritual world and infinite things. An eternal flame.
Could you explain what light means in your work?
YRK: “My art is light. I don’t use light as a means to complete my artworks; the light itself is the essence and expression. I don’t try to represent light, but I try to make it linger. Light comes before objects.”
Can you tell me more about your Eternal Flame series?
YRK: “I started using stainless steel in my work around 2004. My fascination with stainless steel comes from its unique properties. It is cold, cool-headed, straight-forward, stable, and most importantly pure. It is modern and intellectual. I use stainless steel as a medium to reflect, transfer and create light and shadow. After a long and boring process of hammering and shaping, small stainless-steel pieces become my pigment. The uneven and chaotic surfaces of the pieces disperse the light and make it dance on the canvas. At this moment, the cold and stagnant units of metal transfer into the illusions of hotness and passion. This process is just like the sunset, which is the moment when material becomes an eternal image.”
How did you come to the idea of the Eternal Flame?
YRK: “Just like many other artists, I had to fight poverty. After college, I had no choice but to paint and work in a dark, smelly, and humid underground space. The only source of natural light was few narrow openings serving as a vent. I could only see the legs of people walking by. One day, when I walked into my dark workspace, a stream of sunlight coming through the narrow window above and reflecting on a piece of aluminum foil. The sparkle it created was more alive, vivid, lively, and strong. I got mesmerized by how such a natural phenomenon interacts with such an unnatural/industrial material. I deep-dived into light, reflection, and metal. And that is how I developed my current art style/method.”
Affordable Art Fair Brussels from September 22 to 26, 2021
will welcome art offered by 70 Belgian and international galleries, representing around 600 emerging and established artists.
Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86C, Brussels
– Vernissage: Wednesday September 22 – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
– Thursday September 23 – 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
– Friday September 24 – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
– Saturday September 25 – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (10 a.m .: Family Preview)
– Sunday September 26 – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m