Unusual paper sculptures created by Korean artist Ho Yoon Shin can appear solid or either “disappear” – it all depends on the angle you see them at. The artist makes them from thin hand-cut strips of paper, which are then glued together using urethane-coated paper joints, in order to reinforce the fragile structure. This technique is what enables the sculptures to appear solid from one angle and “empty” from another. As it usually happens in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.
Shin says that his main influences include religion and politics, as well as the society he lives in. It may be difficult to link the genre of portraiture to complex social and political phenomena, but the message behind his art becomes clearer when the artist talks about the emptiness and the lack of essence in today’s society.
“I am interested in social phenomena and approached the essence of it,” Shin writes in his profile on LWH Gallery. “I realised that the closer I approached it, I realised there is no essence. I think it is already intrinsic in me or you, being judged and evaluated by the inherent values in our things. Therefore, if examined in that viewpoint, I begin to understand why the power group of Korea has wanted to spilt all kinds of social systems—the right and the left, social classes divided on its economic structure, dominance and subordination, etc.”
Apart from the problems of modern society, the philosophy of Buddhism has also become an important source of inspiration for Shin. Thus, his artworks embody Buddhist ideals not only from the aesthetic point of view but also conceptually. While we can see some sculptures depicting Buddha in his famous lotus position, the concept behind Shin’s art is actually deeper and based on the philosophy of void and emptiness.
“Looking at a solid body made up through several layers… we get to know that the system of the body is organised rather dangerously than strangely, and the system looks like the contemporary society. And its vacant surface and inside are getting filled with our inherent images to completion. In the end, it’s a story about the situation and a point where we fill a surface that doesn’t exist… and console and satisfy ourselves,” Shin says.
Image credit: Ho Yoon Shin
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