While most artists use traditional materials like pen, paper and paint, Korean artist Jihyun Park uses something altogether different, incense sticks. Rather than adding, he takes away. You see, Park burns thousands of tiny holes into rice paper until he makes recognizable images of clouds, mountains and trees. Called Incense Series, the final drawings are mounted on varnished canvases.The holes in the paper allow one’s eyes to see shadows while the white canvases reflect back light.
His artist bio states, “After reading the books Gulliver’s Travels, Utopia, and Erewhon and seeing the Japanese animated movie Castle in the Sky, I became inspired to develop a relationship between the concept of utopia and the materials that I use in my work. My recent work, Incense Series, focuses on this relationship while searching for the promised harmonic balance that utopia brings. Ironically, the word ‘utopia’ in Korean is ‘Yi Sang Hwang’ and ‘Hwang’ means ‘incense’.
“The subjects addressed in my work range from the natural world to memories of the past, reflecting the constant physical and emotional changes in our environment. It is my hope that the ‘moments’ I captures of my subjects are ones when they are at their most ideal – true utopias. While drawing them with the incense, I am ‘holding’ a split moment of harmony in my hands.”
From now till March 21, Park will be showing his Incense Series as part of Asia Week New York.