Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, goes the old adage. Most people would look at a dirty metal chain and see common trash. But it takes a visionary like the very talented Korean sculptor Young-Deok Seo to perceive the many facets of the human condition in such an ordinary object. And he has used this exceptional ability to create a selection of chain-centric artwork that is currently on display in the LINK exhibition at the M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva.
The word ‘link’ suggests a connection between two things; and Seo uses the intertwined nature of the chain in his art to express the duality of our existence in today’s world — wherein the cold hardness of the metal chain forms a relationship with the warm softness of the human body. In essence, suggesting the repression of mankind’s spirit by a materialistic society.
This portrayal takes the form of highly intricate sculptures that have been painstakingly welded out of chains to create human forms. Interestingly, the title of every piece contains a number that denotes the length (in metres) of the chain used to create the work. For instance, 300 metres of bike chain have been used in The thinker 300.
The process of moulding the metal into a shape that conforms to Seo’s vision is a challenging one. Nevertheless, it’s a rewarding enterprise when one considers the outcome — a striking, 3-D collection of contemporary pieces that narrate stories across a sea of emotions. So evocative are some of the images that they elicit strong responses from their viewers, as well.