Art & Design

Making Art out of Charcoal: Seon-ghi Bahk’s Fiction of the Fabricated Image


“Charcoal is wood transformed. Therefore, the material of all my works is wood, nothing else.”, sais Seon-ghi Bahk and that’s how we are introduced to his world. It’s a world accenting the actual relationship between nature and several civilizations, mainly western, that tend to forget how the natural and structured environment are linked. For his Fiction of the Fabricated Image exhibition at the Zadok Gallery of Miami, he is presenting suspended objects, such as tables, and architectural elements, like columns and stairs, out of charcoal hang from nylon threads.

“I first used stones as materials for the installations…but the supporting structure and installation became unnecessarily large and overwhelmed the stones so I replaced the stones with charcoal.”, explains for his main expression medium. This slight miss however, seems to work for his favor, since it can also be perceived as an allegory of the life circle, transition, and how creation is followed by being and death. He is choοsing to start this journey the other way round, from the end (of wood), and bring it to life, as a part of his installations. He is suggesting it as a building material and enters it into his artificial world, despite those who try the oppposite. He creates life from nothing.

Because nature is not just a civilization’s background, but its main element. Soil, stone and wood lead to the first constructions. Without nature, none of all the great achievements we are proud of, would exist. Seon-ghi Bahk is stressing this relationship by poetic terms, in which elements of Korean ink painting are entering, as one can see with the sketches next to each work. The white background replaces the “natural” one and highlights the worthless black charcoal as the only material of his images.

Considering his art as either representational or abstract, is not sufficient. And this happens, because it is neither part of the structured environment, nor of the natural. Instead, the incomparable force of nature creates the circumstances for the creation of the artificial environment. It creates the problems and grants the material to solve them. People should find the way to take advantage of them. Nature is above people. And this is what Seon-ghi Bahk is introducing, not as an axiom, but as a question to the viewer. A question that can’t be answered, but can create a field of philosophical research. Finally, are we the ones making our environment or vice versa?

The exhibition Fiction of the Fabricated Image is scheduled to last until August 25th.

Ζadok Gallery,