Whan Namgoong

Namgoong Whan, a graduate of Seoul National University and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in France, works in both Korea and France. His major works of art include the series in which numerous ink dots create new forms and the series, the installations extended from two-dimensional acrylic pieces.

The term “transmigration”, the title of Namgoong’s ink dot series, is a Buddhist term that means the cycle of life, former life or migration of soul. Under the highly religious connotation of the term, he uses uncountable ink dots to express the circulation of energy. The dots merge into circular swarms that remind of unidentifiable animals and plants. What gives life to these new creatures is the space between the dots which channels the circulation of energy. The energy accumulated at the end of his brush is absorbed into the canvas and spread out to other dots. Though different pieces from different times show different levels of energy, the energy continues to flow inside his works. The Transmigration series has its significance, not as a final outcome, but as a record of the decisions he made throughout the work process. The series tell the audience the story of his discipline, devotion and concentration.

This intensity, which seems to abstract the viability of metamorphosing organisms, the condensation and implosion of energy, and even religious exultation, is the consequence not only of his technical skillfulness but also of his deep immersion in the working process that is as much as performance art.
Yoo, Jin sang (Professor at Kaywon School of Arts and Design)

Namgoong Whan has been working with the concept of “souffle” since 1998 when he was still in college. Since he presented his first (1999) at Seoul National University’s graduate exhibition, he presented (2002) at ENSBA, France and kept on building on the series at exhibitions such as (2009, Kumho Art Gallery), (2009, Whanki Museum) and (2011, Whanki Museum). His installations let the audience walk into the art work and experience whole new time and space. He uses photo luminescent pigment to create the effect of day and night. This color circle of contrasting darkness and light implies that there is always the unrecognized darkness on the opposite side of light.

Paintings painted with colors as seen by eyes do give information about the painting through its colors. However, I have always wanted to see the other side of what eyes can see, the things that are always there but cannot be seen. Those are probably what keep us going … A migration from one spot to another eventually becomes a part of a bigger being. A circulation that began in the nucleus goes back into the nucleus in the end.

(2011) runs its own unique time inside the piece. As Namgoong set 180 seconds as one day to create a cycle of one year, the audience can experience the divergence of time. Inside his installation, the time is divided into three different parts: the beginning of time, the time of division and the time of unification. This new perspective on time does not only control the space inside the piece but also reflects the internal conditions of people, the flow of mental energy.
The series and the series both show that Namgoong Whan aspires to reach the status of “transmigration” while reflecting his unique artistic point of view.