Je Baak: Ritual-Media-Karma at Hada Contemporary Gallery
South Korean artist Je Baak returns to the UK for his second solo exhibition Ritual-Media-Karma at Hada Contemporary. The gallery is made up of just two small rooms, each featuring a separate series of beautiful and deceptively simple photographs.
The works are starkly minimal in appearance and their subjects are hard to decipher at first; in the first room we see ragged vertical black lines against pure white in various states of focus. We can just about tell by looking that they are photographs, close-ups of some sort, but we can’t be sure at first what they are of. The press release reveals the answer – they are lines drawn in ink with a calligraphic brush on paper as part of an elaborate process; a line is drawn and then photographed from a certain perspective, this photograph is printed and another line is drawn on top of the print, another photo is taken of the print from a different perspective, and so on, forming a series of 12 images.
In the second room the works don’t look like photographs at all – here we see out-of-focus, glowing shapes in primary colours against white again. If anything they look like lithographic prints but we are wrong-footed once more – they’re photographs of coloured paper squares that have undergone a rigorous process of production (photographing, printing, photographing the print and so on) until the final images are arrived at.
The work is about deconstruction and a ritualistic process of creation, yet the press release also states matter-of-factly that the pieces are a karmic record of the artist (without much further explanation). Luckily we are at the private view with the artist in attendance and he lays it out in clear terms: his notion of karma is about cause and effect, like the butterfly effect: “you draw a line and it changes something physical in the world”. He also tells us that the photographs in the first room (all resting on the floor propped up against the walls) are all made to his exact height because they are traces of himself that he is leaving behind in the world.
Ritual-Media-Karma at Hada Contemporary Gallery from 14th August until 26th September 2014, for further information visit here.