For its opening on Thursday the Friedman Benda Gallery has been turned into a place of worship. Or so it seems.
Korean artist Byung Hoon Choi shows his most monumental work till date. His basalt sculptures look like signs or symbols, rather than…benches. The already thin line between practical design and pure art of his earlier work (art furniture) seems to have been erased completely, in one stroke.
Choi achieves a delicate balance between opposites. The rough and the polished melt together. The sculptures’ sinuous forms could definitely refer to the basalt’s liquid form as lava thousands and thousands of years ago.
The benches are graphical, as if written by hand, in one brushstroke. It is not clear if the accompanying brush paintings are preliminary studies for the sculptures, but they clearly show the (calli)graphic intention of the sculptor.
Some sculptures are dark and primitive, while others are light and modern. The way the exhibition is lit up only enhances this duality: one room is a white box with overall bright light, two other rooms are kept darker and focus more on the sculptures with spotlights.
Throughout the rooms there’s a feeling of tension between minimal lightness and a more dramatic sense of boldness.
Already because of their unconventional shape, it must be fun to sit on these benches. But I think I’d rather sit on the grass and watch how these sculptures write their presence against the landscape.
IN ONE STROKE / Byung Hoon Choi – Friedman Benda Gallery, Chelsea New York City
OPENING Thursday February 27 – through March 29, 2014