Woo Byoung Yun

A student of philosophy, Woo Byoung Yun’s practice is a way for the artist to make visible the “invisible forces and unseen elements” of our world.

Combining science, philosophy and art – as they often were in the past – Woo has a particular interest in the mechanics of light. Continuing in the same vein as the Impressionists, whose work was an expression of the scientific findings of the 19th century, Woo draws upon the discoveries of his own time, in particular quantum mechanics and the recent revelation that light is both a particle and a wave, “which made me feel as if I had unveiled an unseen reality.”

Since 2018, Woo has dedicated himself to the series ‘Superposition’, in which he spreads a thick layer of plaster onto his canvas before carving and scratching into the surface. Through this process, which the artist refers to as ‘overlapping work’, patterns emerge in the soft plaster; sometimes Woo will mark out a simple grid, whilst other works seem to draw inspiration from the natural world - the ocean waves and fields of wheat, driving rain and swirling space matter.

Each scene covers the entire canvas, and is made up of tiny, individual marks. When seen en masse, there is a palpable sense of movement and rhythm, the surfaces almost hum with energy. Whilst Woo prefers to work at human-scale – his canvases are of a similar size and proportion to the average person – what he depicts is more ambiguous; what we see could be observed at the microscopic scale, or as a bird in the sky.

There is both a complexity and simplicity to Woo Byuong Yun’s work – a quietude and fizzing energy – and in this sense it mirrors the world we live in. Having “pondered questions about the natural order and the purpose of human existence since childhood,” Woo went on to study Philosophy, before turning to art as a way of expressing the thoughts, theories and concepts that occupied his mind. After experimenting with oil paint, watercolour, collage and digital art, Woo began applying gypsum plaster on his canvases as a way of exploring “something outside the realm of sculpture and painting.”

Woo lives and works in Korea and has exhibited widely in his home country with solo exhibitions at Laheen Gallery and UARTSPACE in Seoul, as well as at group shows in Busan and Seongnam.

'The Sun Stands Still' installation view

I strive to unveil and articulate the unseen elements within the world that I observe.