HWANG Gyutae: PIXEL
ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL l SAMCHEONG presents the solo exhibition of Hwang Gyutae(b.1938), an iconoclast and pioneer in Korea’s avant-garde photography, from March 7 to April 21. This exhibition focuses on illuminating his recent work in the <pixel> series, which has been continuing since the 1990s. As an established yet incessantly innovative artist, HWANG has been extending his reach in the realm of photography by pursuing experimental approaches rather than complying with dominant conventions ever since he began his work in the 1960s.
HWANG’s interest in digital images in the 1980s led to new frontiers, such as digital montage, collage, and compositing. Through an extended cycle of experimentation, he found ‘pixels’ – the base unit of images in the form of dots, in the digital images. Drawn to the infinite possibility and visual potential of these geometric images, he launched his <pixel> series.
HWANG’s <pixel> series lacks, or falls short of the basic process of “recording” in photography, and instead harbors “choice” and “magnification.” In other words, his works move away from the traditional process of capturing an object and making it appear on the sensitive film strip, and instead focus on discovering a wide variety of pixels in different forms and colors as they appear in the process of choosing and magnifying images and monitors. That already exists for disparate reasons, ultimately visualizing and materializing them through a range of methods. In this process, the products arising from the original image multiply. It does not matter whether these processes are shown in the photographs or not. His total directional work, which he describes as “chosen pixels rather than made products,” must be understood in the larger context of “image” studies rather than seen through the narrow lens of conventional “art” or formal history.
Another aspect of note is how HWANG connects his <pixel> series with the Russian artist “Kazimir Malevich.” By discovering a link to the extreme minimalism and hard-edge style of Malevich’s hand-painted work in the digital images he found, Hwang revives the philosophy of Suprematist art in the Digital Era, bridging a century of time lapse. Like Malevich’s Suprematist paintings, where he arrives at the pure composition of basic colors and forms such as squares and circles by completely removing all traces of representation, the world of colors and planes in the pixels derived from repeated magnification instantiate infinite time and space for images in the age of the digital, exploring abstraction to the extreme. In this context, HWANG calls his work “post-hard-edge.” Reflecting on his <pixel> work over a period of two decades through select pieces that crystalize his efforts and endeavors from the past two year, the exhibition offers an opportunity for the viewers to explore the identity of images and their directionalities in the era of digital culture.