“The theme of my work is to represent the complex, ambiguous and uncomfortable relationship between man and animal,” says Wookjae Maeng, a South Korean artist whose porcelain wall hangings and pedestal pieces of deer, rhinos, lions, bighorn sheep and other creatures are on display in form & concept’s show “Balance” that opens on October 27.
Some animals are presented like hunting trophies, while other sculptures highlight the invisibility of the animal world to the human eye.
All of Maeng’s animals have golden eyes that confront the viewer.
form & concept’s director Frank Rose first became familiar with Maeng when he saw the artist’s work in a show about the relationship between humans and animals at Santa Fe’s Peters Projects several years ago.
“His work resonated with me,” explains Rose. “I had him in mind specifically for form & concept because his work fits into the gallery’s mission to expand and explore the boundaries of perceived distinctions between art, craft, and design.”
Maeng, who lives in Seoul and has traveled extensively through Europe and North America, earned his Ph.D in ceramic design from Kookmin University in 2015. He says his encounters with animals in the U.S. and Canada helped inspire his artistic explorations of the natural world.
Though Maeng’s work often highlights humanity’s negative impact on the animal kingdom, he wants to inspire awareness in his viewers.
“In order to thrive, (humanity’s relationship with animals) demands careful coexistence and balance between the urban and the natural and empathy for less visible creatures,” says Maeng. “In my work I hope to provide an opportunity, however brief, for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists.”