[Herald Interview] Kang Ik
MADRID -- A grand mosaic wall art installation by New York-based Korean artist Kang Ik-joong has made its Spanish debut, featuring more than 6,000 hand-drawn Korean characters on tile canvases.
The 6,072 three-by-three-inch tiles, covering three walls at the Korean Cultural Center's exhibition space in the Spanish capital, were created by around 365 students studying the Korean language in Spain. They were asked to inscribe their favorite Korean phrases, or the things they know, along with their name.
Named "Things I Know," the installation is a vibrant tapestry of ideas and colors, reflecting participants' varied styles and concepts, Kang said.
The inspiration behind the installation came from Kang's eponymous poem, where he began to chronicle his own "knowledge" about 35 years ago. His first sentence was: "The sky is light turquoise just before a storm.”
“I was curious,” said Kang in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday, ahead of the exhibition's opening ceremony the same day.
“I wrote about 4,100 things that I know. I wanted to ask what others know and hear their inner voices.”
“Many people are learning Hangeul around the world, so I wanted to collect all the voices in the hearts of people around the world and show them through the expressive medium of Hangeul.”
Kang said Hangeul is the perfect vessel for the collection of thoughts because “it is a letter with a philosophy in which consonants and vowels come together to make sounds, like a harmony of yin and yang.”
“It is a writing of peace and harmony … and has a philosophy in the language.”
The project also serves as an opportunity for people to take a moment to listen to their inner voices, he said.
"We usually live our lives listening to what happens outside instead of listening to what happens inside us. Even when we read books and newspapers, they are all other people's news or thoughts, not ours. This situation has worsened especially with social media,” Kang said.