Korean artist, Cha Jongrye, studied sculpture at Ehwa Women’s University, graduating with a BA and MA in 1996. She has accumulated an extensive curriculum vitae of solo and group exhibitions in Korea and the US. This sequence of new works is an impressive introduction to her obsession with her chosen medium - wood - its materiality, sculptural potential and spiritual significance.
Cha Jongrye is entirely focussed on the craft of cutting, carving and shaping. These particular pieces are all generated by assembling multiple, laminated contours to produce an undulating, folded surface of rhythmic complexity. Painstakingly delineated and fabricated, they are like three-dimensional maps, expressive of some mysterious topography: like a magician’s cloth draped over a hidden form. The structures evoke landscape, suggesting mountain ranges and river valleys, but they could equally be interpreted as representing the features of a microscopic world. The artist seems to be proposing an idea of universality, an underlying principle of common forms.
The natural world looms large in Jongrye’s work. The artist specifically situates herself within the context of environmentalism. The use of wood as a sustainable and sympathetic product emphasises her connection. She stresses an aesthetic bond to, and continuity with, the craft technique of traditional makers. The sculptures require many concentrated hours of careful toil to be resolved, they are not quickly manufactured pieces, time and energy spent is integral to their character.
We experience the work as both an exercise in fastidiously crafted beauty and a musing on landscape and nature. Patterns of erosion, flow and sinuous form are caught and expertly translated into the sculptor’s receptive, but demanding raw material. The hard- won results are witness to Jongrye’s profound commitment to her vocation.