Memories Moulded in Midnight Ink…Bahk Seon Ghi at Saatchi

Next up on the hit list from Saatchi’s Korean Eye is Bahk Seon Ghi with his 7ft high ebony carving, Point of View.

Initially I’d seen this stack of every day objects in the dimmed upper gallery and thought I had discovered what I would call a ‘Saatchi’ – i.e. a stack of objects sprayed black, a dull, aesthetically uninteresting and contextually shallow large object.

However, I was wrong!

Instead this bluey brown tower, littered with cracks and splinters, is a masterful example of carpentry. The folds of the umbrella canopy curve softly like fabric and the snakeskin skin of the briefcase is uncannily realistic.

 It stands almost totemic, as if commemorating  belongings lost in a fire  or physical items drawn out of a black and white photograph, eerie, unnerving.

Bahk’s piece additionally conjures ideas of traditional oriental ink drawings as its colouring is not black but instead that multi-tonal darkness of Chinese ink – marking brown, blue, grey as the brush strokes have swept across the page.

Bahk’s love affair with charcoal began as a search to incorporate the cycle of nature into his work whilst still dominating a space, so avoiding the flimsiness of trees or leaves he went straight for the jagged, intense depth of charcoal. Initially he suspended tiny pieces of coal using nylon string to create floating sculptures which clearly reflect his interest in the natural world -fragile, ephemeral yet memorable – but using it to form strong structures from the inside of our homes; bringing the outside in.

Now he has stepped away from these fragmented floating ‘paintings’ and developed a much tougher, more solid style. Personally, I think Point of View is much stronger and makes more of a definite point; the hanging pieces are visually interesting but nothing we haven’t also seen from artists like Damian Ortega with his ‘explosions’ or Cornelia Parker. Suspension has become overdone, but a combination of skilled carving, nostalgia and the midnight black of Chinese ink?

That’s something quite extraordinary and I will be following Bahk Seon Ghi to see how this new venture progresses.

….and I really like the bowler….


One thought on “Memories Moulded in Midnight Ink…Bahk Seon Ghi at Saatchi

  1. chriswoodartist says:

    I think the hanging pieces are a little derivative – so too is the burnt bowler hat etc However, whilst David Nash’s iconic spiritual pieces are abstract, here we at least see something different – something that makes us think and get involved with a more accessible narrative. In conclusion, “Point of View” has my vote. : ) }

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