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Fuse, 2007-2008
Mixed media
165 x 47 x 70 cm
Courtesy Sammlung Peters Messer, Viersen; Arario Gallery, Seoul/Beijing/New York
© Arario Gallery Text

The artist seems to reproduce analogically a technique that has taken on great importance in the field of digital photography, namely stitching, which makes it possible to assemble a number of individual digital images in order to form a new and larger image with no visible joins. The numerous artists to have used this procedure include Andreas Gursky as well as David Hockney in his celebrated photographic collages. It has also served in the creation of new ways to view the real world, as in the case of Google Earth, which creates an illusion of reality by combining individual images of details to recreate the three-dimensional quality of reality.
Osang Gwon uses this method to transfer the two-dimensional photographic image into the three-dimensional space in which it originated. The characteristic and literal “superficiality” of photography (its development in the flat dimension) is thus transformed into the surface of a sculpture reproducing a real model that was previously the subject of a photograph.
The pedestal of the work also plays a key role in the art of Osang Gwon, serving first of all to define the relationship between the viewer and the sculpture and reflecting the importance of the “sculptural distance” characterizing the history of exhibitions of artworks. At the same time, the pedestal isolates the sculptures from their environment, confining them once again within their own autonomous spatial dimension. Even though Osang Gwon is often mentioned as an artist operating in the field of contemporary photography, he insists on describing himself as a sculptor. It is therefore no coincidence that he has abandoned photography completely in his most recent works and gone back to working with the traditional tools of sculpture, often focusing on the cultural gaps and differences that play an increasingly important role in western and eastern popular culture.

Fuse, 2007-2008
Vedute dell'installazione in mostra
© Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, Firenze; Valentina Muscedra

Osang Gwon (South Korea, 1974)

Fuse is a life-sized “photographic sculpture” of a motorcyclist in leathers and crash helmet lying on the ground. While this inevitably brings a road accident to mind on first sight, the position of the body is reminiscent rather of a sleeping child and thus contradicts the idea of a crash. The impression of fragility and tenderness contrasts with the aggressive image of a motorcyclist in full kit. The sculpture belongs to a series of works entitled Deodorant Type and featuring a variety of human figures represented through countless individual photographs. It is this method that gives photo sculptures their combination of characteristic realism and strongly surrealistic appeal. Osang Gwon uses hundreds of shots to construct the surface of his models in a sort of three-dimensional collage that includes all of the body complete with the details of the face and clothing. Seen at a distance, his sculptures recall the hyper-realistic waxworks of Duane Hanson, but all similarity vanishes as we draw closer to the figures and realize the nature of the material used to create them.



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