Roh Choong-hyun

Project Space Sarubia

Until recently, the Seoul-based artist Roh Choong-hyun was focused on painting bleak yet poetic urban landscapes—riverside parks and zoos. But with the election of the right-wing conservative government in South Korea in 2008, Roh felt the need to respond to the uncomfortable political conditions; they triggered a “physical response,” as he puts it. In the thirteen works in his exhibition “Closed-Door Room,” Roh exploits confined spaces associated with repression and violence, most of which come from sites linked to recent Korean history.

A typical new piece by Roh, Room (all works cited, 2009), shows the dirty corner of an empty office space, complete with the dusty traces of fixtures and furniture that were once there. Only a fan, an air duct, electric cords, and the dark-colored band at the bottom of the wall stand out from the creamy background, leaving the canvas mostly achromatic and

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