Pilar Corrias is pleased to present Koo Jeong A’s solo exhibition, Magnet Cities, which represents a culmination of the artist’s ten-year exploration into the formal, conceptual, medicinal and architectural properties of ferrite magnets. This ongoing series was initiated from Koo’s experiences meeting and conversing with Dr. Koo Bon Sea in Korea and English architect, Cedric Price. Each of these individuals focuses their own investigations into the possibilities of magnets and magnet fields. The artist’s experience meeting these two individuals became the trajectory for her own exploration into the conceptual potential of magnets and the employment of magnets as a sculptural medium.
This series of works evolved through the artist’s research into Cedric Price’s unrealized project, Magnet (1997), which employed ‘anticipatory architecture’, where public amenities would stimulate patterns of public movement. Magnets for Price function as a conceptual framework and metaphor for thinking about city planning and for emancipating destitute architectural sites. This conceptual thinking about magnetic fields, enacted by Price influenced Koo to examine and think critically about the formal properties of magnets themselves.
Koo’s various magnet sculptures and reliefs are all made from pre-cut sized magnets, they are generic and can be purchased by anyone. By employing these standard sized, easily accessible magnets, Koo, like Cedric Price began her work through an examination of that which is overlooked or abandoned. These commonplace magnets are arranged and manipulated by the artist, as she tests and ultimately illuminates the creative capacities within this seemingly basic material.
These work begins with a set number of ferrite magnets. It is the number of magnets that dictate the way in which the sculptures and reliefs are arranged and constructed. Influenced by the theories of Pythagoras, the artist approaches these works where the number is the ruler of form and idea and is the trajectory for how she thinks about and produces the works. While the artist has arranged all the pieces specifically, they can be re-arranged into various alternative configurations. By leaving the capabilities of this material open to manipulation, the artist is uniquely gesturing to the powerful kinetic faculties that exist within this medium.
Many of these magnet sculptures have been painted in a hammered blue and constructed into walls and grids. Positioning and displaying the magnets in this way signifies the artist’s fascination with the force and power of this material. The paintings that Koo has created throughout this series involve applying a layer of magnetic paint underneath a solid primary colour and then smashing her magnets to produce a series of shards. These shards are then placed onto the painted canvases. Like the flexible layouts of the sculptures, the magnet shards on these paintings can also be moved around or re-arranged.