WOAW Gallery is delighted to present Huddle Around, a solo exhibition featuring contemporary painter Sun-Kyo Park’s acrylic-on-canvas work of surreal portraitures. Finding inspiration from his childhood memories of gathering, praying, and connecting with family and relatives in the neighbourhood, the word “huddle” reminds Park of the human, basic survival need for warmth in today’s society, where people are tightly interconnected with one another in metaphysical ways.
Hailing from South Korea, where he was raised in a religious family, Park fondly remembers the posture of sitting cross-legged not only as a traditional Korean act, but also the warm and familiar memory of a weekly occurrence called District Worship, when people from different districts of the church would gather in one house to share food, hymns, Bible verses, and stories. “Although silent, a mysterious air seemed to have formed a promise that they would not turn their backs on each other,” the artist recalls.
The soulful individuals in Park’s artwork look to the viewer intently, seemingly waiting for the beholder to gaze back into their eyes to build a connection with roots deep beneath the surface. In setting the figures in his paintings in the same posture and space, however, Park explores how we are wildly different, yet fundamentally the same. Some of the portraits referenced the artist himself and his acquaintances, while others were based on strangers.
Park’s observation of people is deeply contemplative. The artist believes that a person’s facial expression reveals their emotions and history, and when he paints a character, he makes use of their body, clothes, background, and other surrounding elements to complete a well-rounded yet harmonious impression of who they are at their core.
As the viewer enters the exhibition space, these unknown individuals seem to be huddled around, speaking to each other at a close distance, but what do we really know about them? What do we know about their stories, from occupations and sexual orientations to religious beliefs?
In painting these figures, Park seeks to pose the question: What do we see when we see people? The artist elaborates, “Perhaps the truth I am looking for is to properly understand and love the essence that goes beyond the conceptual idea or the type of representation that defines a person.” Ultimately, people are inherently complex in their unique depths and experiences, and so much more than the one-sided impressions they may be perceived for. It is this particularly nuanced notion that brought Park’s paintings for this exhibition, into formation.
About Sun-Kyo Park
Sun-Kyo Park (b.1990, Korea) is a Korean artist that brings the character and the first impression to his paintings. The face also plays an important role in determining the first impression. So, even if all other expressions work well, lacking expression makes it difficult to captivate the audience right away at the first glance. The impression of a character with all this information gathered may be only a momentary afterimage through which we can recognize a person in a short period of time but is the most intense information that intuitively conveys the information contained in the character.