Performance/Installation 2017
Bus Station
Yi Hwan Kwon
Presented by Cmay Gallery
Yi Hwan Kwon’s eccentric and arresting sculptures and environmental installations are both the sites and the triggers for an explosion of cognitive and visceral dissonance. Cheerfully brimming with paradox, his distorted statuary of modern people have the immediacy and surprise energy of Pop Art, but none of its flashy, high-calorie excesses. Instead, these object-images offer nuanced disorientation; they are as much about direct experiential materiality as they are about deracinated, mediated perceptions. They offer poetic personal narrative and socio-political analysis. They speak simultaneously in the languages of art history and science fiction. Like Helen of Troy, each of his faces launch 1,000 ships of inquiry.

To Yi Hawn-kwon’s mind, the dominant quality of modern existence is tension. We exist in a kind of self-made limbo between isolation and connection, individual and society, real and virtual, phenomenon and invention, in which everything is flattened, condensed, trapped and made relative. In his illusionistic manipulations of the human body – as represented by an eclectic array of exemplar citizens both anonymous and archetypal – Yi Hwan-kwon seeks to give durable physical form to a cluster of ideas about energy and cognition.

Encountering his stretched, attenuated, truncated, squashed, yet otherwise realistic sculptures, often in unexpected public settings like parks and plazas, viewers frequently report feelings of “dizziness” and “giddiness” at being confronted with what are essentially beings from another plane of existence appearing as anomalies in our world It’s like a curtain lifted on a parallel universe. It’s like straddling both sides of the looking glass. It’s a powerful metaphor for the divided state of the world we do inhabit, and for the joyfully transformative power of art.