You Myung Gyun's Work - すぐそこの彼方 (Just Beyond)
When I come into contact with You Myung Gyun's work, I feel a certain "expansion" or “spatiality." How do I put it? The appearance, state, and spread of Mother Nature - those words come to mind.
When his work is shown as a painting, I feel the world of “flow” in which the flow of time and the expansion of space becomes one. When shown as a three-dimensional work, I feel the world of “roots” that I will encounter if I go underground or to the state of the sources of life. Or in his installation work, I feel like I have encountered a big creature that appeared in the early stages of life. And in every work, "Human" is neither a shadow nor a figure. Perhaps, not yet. This work feels as though it is from the primitive world of nature before humans. Photosynthesis has a history of 3.2 billion years, but Homo sapiens are only 200,000 to 190,000 years old.
In today's world, human beings dominate the planet and they believe they are the ones who control it. This is because we have only recently acquired the power to transform the entire earth's environment, but if we continue to do so, we may soon be eradicated. A lot of people are worried. In regards to this, You Myung Gyun is not accusing people for our current situation but is closely observing the spread of space-time in which humans come out of this dominant relationship and return to nature.
When I faced his paintings in his studio, the word "people from the woods" came to my mind. He has moved from Korea → Japan → Korea → America → Korea and calls himself “Nomad.” However, this "Wanderer" is not specifically going after anything concrete, like sheep or goats. He is just simply asking for a work of art; for him it's not essentially a matter of culture or history, but it is more about the roots of life. He places himself at the bottom of the horizon as a living thing, in the middle of nature, and tries to listen to nature's appeals, leaving his will and thoughts second to none.
For a small being called human, “life” and “death” are only the same phenomena in terms of time and space. It could be thought that humans only stand on the line of "life and death,” without any help from absolute religion. This is a common attitude that most Asians naturally acquire. "The eternal silence of this infinite space" may frighten Westerners, but for Asians, it is a world of horizons, beyond fear and peace, where even the little beings themselves return.
Take expressions of art to such a horizon. Or recreate it from that phase. That is what You Myung Gyun is endeavoring to do.
A couple of years ago my life changed very unexpectedly, and I began to take on a lifestyle of constant moving: I felt like a nomad.
I traveled all over the U.S. searching for free, open spaces to live and work: I went to the South, the East and West Coasts, and spent time in the Midwest and mountains. During this time, I mostly lived out of my car. Because of this situation, I was able to experience the natural world up close. Every place I went, there was a new and different form of nature, and geological beauty, unlike any I had ever seen mbefore. It felt miraculous. The magnificence of the expansive beauty made my admiration for the frontier world grow and grow; the beauty felt like fantastic earth history on display. It was clear to me that geologically, there are millions of years of 'hidden' time on the planet, within the earth, and in space.
I began to think more about how human beings are only a small moment in the history of the earth, compared to the deep evolutionary past of the natural world.
The cycles of repetition, rebirth, and growth are countless in the natural world - at least for our human brains, which try but cannot calculate this seemingly endless march of evolution.
I began to treasure pieces of the land I was witnessing. When I would visit a forest for the first time, I would take a handful of soil. I began to collect soils from each place I visited in the U.S. My work has begun to encompass this search and collecting. With my collection process, I am investigating time travel between human form and geological form. Where do we sit in the infinite cycles occurring around us? Are they infinite? I am inquiring as to where I fit in time - socially and culturally - by physically engaging with the natural world, which adds such awe and mystery to my own concepts of time.