seoul

Inkie Whang, An Old Breeze—Grass Roof 1, 2008, silicon and acrylic paint on canvas, 71 5/8 x 71 5/8".

Inkie Whang

Arko Art Center

Inkie Whang, An Old Breeze—Grass Roof 1, 2008, silicon and acrylic paint on canvas, 71 5/8 x 71 5/8".

There are miraculous moments in contemporary Asian art when a reconciliation of Eastern tradition and the Western avant-garde really does seem possible; Inkie Whang’s discovery of Lego blocks around 1994 and his systematic application of similar units on flat vertical surfaces since 2000 offer a good example. Whang chose images from the masterpieces of Korean and Chinese ink landscapes and digitized them (usually enlarging them in the process) so that the subtle brushstrokes and the ink’s nuances and gradations turned into a binary code, according to which the tiny square plastic blocks were then arranged.

A typical example is Dream Journey-Childhood, 2007, in which Ahn Gyeon’s fifteenth-century Mongyudowondo (Dream Journey to the Land of Peach Blossoms)—a panorama of multipeaked mountains and a nested peach orchard as described by Prince Anpyeong as appearing in his dream—is

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