MA & Other Art Postgraduates 2012 Exhibition – Street

Saturday 31st March was the day four of the OCA South West Group met at Millfield School in Street, Somerset to view the thirteenth annual ‘MA & Other Art Postgraduates 2012 Exhibition’ mounted by the school.

Invitations are sent out annually to nearly all the known graduate and post-graduate training establishments in the UK asking for entries to this exhibition.  I say nearly all because one of the OCA attendees found out when telephoning the school about the exhibition that they (the organisers) weren’t aware of the OCA!  Perhaps in years to come invitations will appear for students from our body to submit work, who knows.

The only criticisms I have of the exhibition is the low number of submissions from all disciplines, surprising considering this is their thirteenth year, and that the photographs were, in my opinion poorly hung and in poor lighting conditions.  The exhibition was held in the arts faculty hall and consisted mainly of paintings and installations and only about five photographic artists.  However, the five photographers represented did produce some interesting work.

Only two of those artists are represented in this review because it wasn’t possible to achieve acceptable photographic results of their framed images due to the poor lighting conditions and the fact that they were framed under glass.  This doesn’t mean their work was any less remarkable, it just doesn’t do justice to comment on work that can’t be viewed to consider the remarks made.

Red Plastic Bag - Hyunmin Ryu - Slade School of Fine Art, UCL

Extinguisher - Hyunmin Ryu - Slade School of Fine Art, UCL

Extrication #3 - Hyunmin Ryu - Slade School of Fine Art, UCL

I’ve not been able to find much about Hyunmin Ryu on the internet, that is not this particular person as he seems to wish to keep himself somewhat of an enigma as far as his biography is concerned, but from what little I can find I believe he is Japanese or Korean and by the fact that his work is in this exhibition of MA work he’s still possibly a student, but having said that I do seem to remember seeing his work elsewhere on the internet, and these three images do appear on Google images from Tokyobeat.

They apparently form a triptych, although at this exhibition they weren’t hung as such with one separate from the others.  The same person appears as the figure in all three and is dressed in the same white suit and could well presumably be the artist himself?  I think they could all have been taken at about the same time of year and presumably in the artists homeland as the background to ‘Red Plastic Bag’ and ‘ Extinguisher’ don’t appear to be scenes from any British town or countryside.  ‘Extrication #3’ could have been shot in England as the tree the figure appears in is an oak and the background could well be England somewhere.

To me ‘Red Plastic Bag’ depicts man’s attempt to mimic nature.  The mountains in the background are mirrored by the concrete conduit by the way the outline follows the natural, and the figure at the top is saying that man has reached the pinnacle of his own constructed mountains but because of the dissimilar heights, man is still dwarfed by nature.  The man standing to attention at the top is reflecting the electricity pylon in the mid-background and also indicating that he has surmounted the man-made mountain and this is the flag placed there to recognise this achievement.  The red bag is the actual flag and the human body is the flagstaff, the white suit denotes virginity and this may define the first conquering of this obstacle.  He’s also looking away from the mountains and into the distance perhaps looking for new horizons to conquer, or escape to.

‘Extinguisher’ is saying to me that the figure is attempting to escape from the valley and over the mountains in the far background away from the ultra-modern town set behind the hill the figure sits upon.  I think he’s gone to this particular site because although the hill appears to be man-made, it is made from natural waste material from the building site and covered in grass making it look natural rather than the man-made town he wants to escape from and so he identifies himself with the natural.  Sitting on the back of a chair provides him with the semblance of a rocket base similar to those seen at Cape Canaveral.  The fire extinguisher provides the simulation of a rocket engine firing even though he presumably knows that it can’t possibly propel him over the mountains and away from the town, but he clearly wishes it could.

With ‘Extrication #3’ the figure has finally managed to escape from the valley and the ultra-modern city only to find that he’s landed in another predicament he needs to find a solution to, hence the chin on cupped hand.  The clothes dryer with clothing on represents the wings he needed to get from where he was to where he is and that his landing in the tree wasn’t really planned and he’s now deep in thought about how to extricate himself.  He could also be considering that having escaped from something he didn’t appreciate or like, he’s landed in a situation in the wild that he’d not anticipated and had no plans to survive through and perhaps in his own mind he’s not sure he likes this situation any better.  The people walking away from him in the background are metaphorically leaving him to his own devices and a human soul on its own is sometime bereft of hope.


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