Jong Oh’s shapes of perturbation at MARC STRAUS Gallery


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Surface Water 4, 2016


We talked with Korean artist Jong Oh at the preview of his third solo exhibition with MARC STRAUS Gallery in New York’s Lower East Side.

Matilde Soligno: Have you always worked with site-specific, minimalistic sculpture?

Jong Oh: I started pursuing this kind of work 4 years ago, which in time became more and more minimal. Lately, I’ve been adding photographs to my installations, which is a more material component.

MS: Your installation “Surface Water 4″ includes two different photographs of ocean water installed side by side. The photos are very similar but the amount of perturbation in the water is slightly different. This creates a subtle tension within the artwork. Why did you choose to include them?

JO: It was my intention to use photography as objects in my installations. I took these images from ferry boats around New York. I like water because it is a surface, but also has a deepness to it. You can sink deep beyond that surface, but at the same time there is something coming out of it, like a reflection. In my work, I use a lot of different planes, to which these photographs are an appropriate response. In Surface Water 4 I liked the idea of putting two images together. It is the same water photographed on different days, one’s surface slightly calmer than the other. I wanted to contain that difference, and that’s where the piece started from. In this other piece, Surface Water 3, the thread frame is responding to the photograph, to the sound coming out of it. The photographic piece emanates this second plane, that at the same time contains the sound, which is therefore trapped in between. The result is a silence contained.


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Surface Water 3, 2016


MS: It’s interesting how you put these little discriminations in place, and let these differences create a tension that then gets contained by the piece itself. What about the part you made with glossy paint in “Compo-site 13″?

JO: I use glossy paint sometimes to create a shadow, to make the viewer wonder if it’s the reflection of something.


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Compo-site 13, 2016


MS: Like most of your artwork on show at Marc Straus Gallery, “Compo-site 13″ displaces the viewer’s perception of space, because it messes with our optical reference points and our orientation. Are you referencing architecture? For instance, the glossy paint element reminds me of a light plane created by a window.

JO: I respond to the architecture of the place where I’m building my sculptures, but also to the various components in my pieces. For instance, in Compo-site 13, I also use a plexiglass panel, thus setting an internal reference between it and the glossy-painted rectangle. The whole piece, in turn, relates to the window on the ceiling. When you visit the exhibition during the day there’s actual light coming from the windows, that creates a very different environment from the one we see now at night.


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Column (Brass), 2016


MS: What are the historical and contemporary references that inspire you?

JO: I was influenced by American minimalism, that I studied during my Master’s degree at SVA in New York. Definitely Fred Sandback – and Richard Tuttle, who I consider my master and was of great inspiration when I was in school.


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, First Echo, 2016


MS: Where do you live now?

JO: I live in New York, but I recently spent time in Vienna on an artist residency. It was there I started taking the photographs that then became part of my most recent production. While walking around the city and crossing the river Danube, I took pictures of the water and I immediately knew I needed to use them for my sculptures. That’s how the series began.

MS: Is this a steady direction for you – are you going to keep inserting images into your artwork?

JO: Yes, I’m going to continue in this direction. But I’m always very careful in picking materials of this sort, I don’t want my images to contain too much information and overwhelm the composite energy of my work.

Jong Oh, upstairs gallery at MARC STRAUS Gallery, New York until February 26, 2016


Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Compo-site 13, 2016 (detail)

Jong Oh, Marc Straus Gallery, New York

Jong Oh, Surface Water 4, 2016 (detail). Photo © Matilde Soligno

Discussion Un commento

  1. February 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    […] The new series incorporates photography as another mean to create tension within the artwork. We had an interview with the artist you can read, and the exhibition is on until Feb […]

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by Matilde Soligno
in Focus on the American East

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