"The Other Side of Illusion" (2010); color photograph
The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in a Japanese museum by the Korean female artist Jae-Eun Choi. For her theme, Choi has chosen the image of the tree, inspired by the story of the great Emperor Aśoka of India. The famed propagator of Buddhism ordered each subject in his kingdom to plant and care for five trees, each with a different purpose: one for the curing of diseases, one for fruit, one for firewood, one for house building, and one for flowers. Aśoka called them the “five small forests.”
This image of the tree is one that transcends time. This tree is also a source of mercy that arises from the abyss to offer boundless serenity to all living things even as it reaches out towards eternity.
The relationship between humans and trees has not changed since time immemorial. Be that as it may, it underscores the change that all things in this world must undergo. Borges once said “all spiritual experiences of human beings are reduced to the experience of time.” It is in that sense that the tree is truly a spiritual intermediary.
―From the concept note of the artist―
Reflecting on the great flow of life which encompasses the forest and the eternal rapport that has existed between trees and humans, Choi has given birth to a “forest" within the museum.
Born in 1953 in Seoul, Korea, Choi first visited Japan in 1976. She became interested in ikebana, the traditional art of flower arrangement, and was attracted to innovative style of the Sogetsu school of ikebana where she became a student. From 1984 to 1987, she worked as an assistant to Hiroshi Teshigahara, the third generation master of the Sogetsu school and movie director. In the years that followed, her work began to appear in international art exhibitions, including the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995 when she was selected as Japan’s representative. In 2001, she made her debut as a movie director with the film On The Way. The spatial concepts and philosophy of the Sogetsu school are reflected in Choi's installations, which take as their raw materials such things as plants, water, air, fire and earth. With these materials, she creates large works, both indoor and outdoor, in which human life is layered onto the life stages of plants. Choi began working on the World Underground Project from 1986 at various locales in the world, including Kyongju, Korea; Imadate in Fukui prefecture, Japan; and a number of places in Europe, the U.S. and Africa. Homage to Mozart (1988) in the Hara Museum’s collection is one work from this revolutionary project in which washi (Japanese handmade paper) is buried within the earth for a period of time to allow the environment at each locale to take over the “completion” of the work, thereby striking a blow at the conventional idea of “art” as a product of human artifice. In later works, she used the microscope to explore motifs taken from the micro world. Through her career, the form of Choi’s artworks has undergone unceasing change. What ties them together are her ideas about and concern for life, which have continued to be the underlying theme in all of her art.
* The text provided by Hara Museum of Contemporary Art.
Opened dates: September 11 - December 26, 2010