WON Seoung Won: The Inaudible Audible
WON Seoung Won is a natural born storyteller—the beauty of her works is found at the point where the artist’s imagination comes into contact with the material that realizes it. Neither the fictional stories imagined by the artist nor her unique choice and use of photo-collage can fully convey WON’s oeuvre. Instead, in order to step into her artistic world, one must understand how the fictional and the real come across, and how the artist’s work process and methodology, and her narrative construction within the works are parallel in these two worlds.
WON's photographic works strictly start from reality. Based on the artist’s close observations of people and stories that surround her, which are captured in photographs, she builds an imaginative world through the medium of photo-collage. In other words, WON’s works, which initially capture the rawness of reality, are founded on the tradition of photography as a medium. Thousands of these photographs are copied, cropped, and pasted through Photoshop to become realized as one fictional image. Just as WON, as a storyteller, interweaves smaller stories of and from reality into a bigger narrative, the artist ultimately completes a broader “picture” from smaller photographic fragments; all becoming parts of a whole that is the artist’s imagined world. Therefore, one must look at both sides simultaneously—the fictional and the real—through the narrative and the methodology. Furthermore, by introducing drawings in the exhibition, WON wittily juxtaposes two media that are opposite in nature: photography and drawing.
The narrative, told by the artist in The Inaudible Audible, is about various forms of relationships as well as the people and individuals living in them. In its essence lies the story of people, who are naturally defined by society. These relationships are built on the artist’s innermost desires and perspective on what may have been or could have been achieved. The trees in her works replace humans as a symbol that remains immobile, adapting to the surrounding environment once rooted down. Each canvas, at first glance, seems to be filled with trees; but in fact, each is a result of tightly arranged metaphors and symbols of the imagined tendency of individuals. Despite the strictly personal nature of the works, which reflect WON’s tenacious observations, the viewers may detect a sense of empathy. At the same time, since relationships in life are made up of audible yet inaudible points, these works ultimately confront the viewers with their own personal stories that are never to be shared with others—les autres.
WON Seoung Won received M.F.A. from Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in 2002 and Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln in 2005. WON held solo exhibitions at Arario Gallery (Korea) in 2017, Podbielsky Contemporary (Germany) in 2014, Alternative Space LOOP (Korea) in 2008, and participated in numerous group exhibitions at Seoul National University Museum of Art (Korea), Gyeongnam Art Museum (Korea) in 2021, Gwangju Museum of Art (Korea), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Korea) in 2020, Museum SAN (Korea) in 2019, Total Museum of Art (Korea) in 2018, Arario Gallery (China) and Zacheta Project Room (Poland) in 2017, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Korea) and Mori Art Museum (Japan) in 2014, MoCA Shanghai (China) and Liverpool Biennial 2012 (UK) in 2012, Mica Moca Project (Berlin, Germany) in 2011, and Museum of Fine Art Houston (US) in 2009. Her works are collected at Osthaus Museum (Germany), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (US), Kunsthaus Lempertz (Germany), Museum of Photography (Korea), Seoul Museum of Art (Korea), Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art (Korea), Goeun Art Foundation (Korea) and Arario Museum (Korea).