Asian Reporter Info
PERFECTING PAPER. "Pulp Addiction," an exhibit of works by South Korean artists Jeong Han Yun and Choon Hyang Yun created by embedding vibrant colored oil paint into Hanji, or traditional Korean handmade paper, is on display through June 30 at Gallery 903. (Photo courtesy of Gallery 903)
From The Asian Reporter, V22, #11 (June 4, 2012), page 13.
Cultural crossroads: Monumental handmade paper by Jeong Han Yun and Choon Hyang Yun
By Josephine Bridges
The Asian Reporter
If you are reading these words between 10:00am and 5:30pm Monday through Saturday or noon and 5:00pm Sunday, you might want to stop, get yourself down to Gallery 903 in northwest Portland immediately, and finish this article later.
The purpose of a review such as this is to acquaint people with the art in question, so those who expect to appreciate the work can see it, and those who do not can use their valuable time otherwise. But I daresay there is no one who will not appreciate "Pulp Addiction," an exhibit of the monumental handmade paper of Jeong Han Yun and Choon Hyang Yun. The only reason to continue reading before heading out the door would be that the gallery is closed. In that case, keep reading, but only until the gallery opens.
The size of these pieces of handmade paper will grab your attention even from across the street. Ranging up to 73" x 97" in size, the scale simply boggles the mind. Walk toward the pieces from far away and watch how they change. As you move closer to them, first the color, next the composition, and finally the textural detail of the artworks will begin to astonish you. If you have any experience with making paper by hand, your sheer delight in the beauty of these pieces will be punctuated by these questions: How in the world did they do that? And that? And that?
The story of the artists began "long, long ago," says Jeong Han, when the couple met at university in South Korea, where both were studying art. Following graduation and marriage, the duo discovered that in order to find the paper they were looking for, they needed to make it. Handmade Asian paper is very different from paper made in the west, but a combination of the two proved to be the best of both worlds. "This paper," says Jeong Han, "is a demonstration of cultural crossroads."
One of the greatest challenges in making paper is color. Blues and yellows are easy, but dark blacks and vibrant reds are very hard to achieve. The artists, unable to find these blacks and reds, began to make the colors they needed, and the paper became not so much a surface upon which to create art as art itself.
The composition, texture, and detail of these works of paper seem even more remarkable once you learn that the artists must work for up to 72 hours pouring the pulp, embedding printed papers, and creating detail with tools and their fingers.
The first of many layers is raw pulp made from the bark of the dak tree. Then gradually, using large containers of colored pulp, the artists pour layer upon layer, hour after hour. Finally, they remove small pieces of pulp, giving the paper the appearance of both random and three-dimensional texture. All of it must be done in one sitting, before the paper can dry.
Herschel McGraw of Gallery 903 describes these huge paper pieces as "complex but not demanding," and goes on to say, "The artistsí loving, wonderful, joyful personalities come out in the work."
Jeong Han and Choon Hyang call Philadelphia home these days, because they have to live close to the New York art scene, but they have spent five years in Medford, Oregon and seven months here in Portland, to which they hope to return. "We love Oregon," they say. "Itís like our hometown."
If you havenít yet visited "Pulp Addiction," you have until June 30, but that is sooner than you think. Mark your calendar, or better yet, get down there right now. Gallery 903 is located at 903 N.W. Davis Street in Portland. To learn more, call (503) 248-0903 or visit <www.gallery903.com>.