Hwang Gyung-hyun


Things that I found while strolling around the city(2017) 2019-12-09

Things that I found while strolling around the city


Hwang Gyung-hyun




As the title implies, the theme is strolling around the city. Numerous landscapes saw while strolling around the city are exhibited as black and white paintings.

The word ‘stroll’ first appears as an art history term during the impressionist era. Charles Baudelaire was a flàneur, a wanderer of the 19th century. For him, ‘strolling’ is ‘walking aimlessly.’ In this sense, we perceive landscapes while strolling simply because we have eyes. But ‘strolling’ as ‘leisure’ or ‘walking aimlessly’ started to appear in the late 19th century as capitalism started to emerge.

Then, what is ‘strolling’ in today’s society? In what time and space are we walking and from what landscapes do we now see outward? There were times when material wealth was a thing of the ‘future.’ As we confront a reality wherein our imagination has become ‘commercialized’, we are finally in that future.

When I draw on a white paper with black powders, I often call them a ‘nomad’, ‘flâneur’ or ‘stroller’. Black powders roam around empty spaces that look splendid and huge, but there are no spaces to settle down in. I started to draw urban landscapes because I did not know which story to tell during a time when things may constantly disappear and reappear. The true nature of my work is to reflect life on paper by contemplating those unsettled black powders.




Looking at the three-meter picture scroll, audiences have often asked me about the places in the picture. I intentionally drew anonymous places so that no one would recognize them, but most audiences tend to relate places to the ones they know. One audience told me that somehow daily landscapes feel strange, saying that pictures of overseas countries feel familiar to him. It is strange. It is an error to recognize daily places as unfamiliar, but somehow I could agree with him. From reality to a flat surface, and then the other way around: the history of transcending dimensions has reached an invisible layer, encroaching upon our imagination. In particular, as an artist born in 1990, I grew up observing the advancements of media, so I personally consider the world as a screen that continuously plays numerous images.


Flat surfaces


‘Drawing’ repeatedly on a thin layer means to enter both the inner and outer world, transcending the boundaries of both. Here, finding locations for black particles was important. I became more focused while drawing the parts that I do not know well. So, I had to fill that part in with black or with the content of my imagination. This is similar to a panoramic camera that expresses a distorted part of space-time as black. I could fill it in with black or with the imagination because I could not reconstruct it with my memory.

Sometimes, ‘drawing a picture’ seems unrelated to art. How can multidimensional spaces fit onto a thin surface? Some claim that correlating paint on a flat surface with reality is a deception. Paintings remind me of a certain event, an event that represents the unknown or that somehow illumines the spiritual underside of reality. Some have even told the story of paintings by denying the form of ‘painting’ itself. In this process, paintings either perish or transform. In fact, all these processes are incessant debates over how effective art is in reality. Is art playing a leading role? If a painting cannot give us the answer, then what form of art can be the pioneering medium in today’s world of the instantaneous? We encounter artworks that recreate or copy other contemporary scenes, not ones that summon or embody the future. So, it is meaningless to argue the effectiveness of paintings in a time when individuals create their own personal universes of space-time. These thoughts provide me with both relief and anxiety in regards to the act of ‘drawing a picture’ in today’s lifeworld. What can I accomplish while crouching in front of a massive, thin surface of paper?