Sun-Kyo Park’s curious artworks reflect on the fabric of society

In a new solo London exhibition, the artist is presenting his jarring compositions which can be traced back to his childhood

Ever since he was in school, Sun-Kyo Park was aware of the contradictory forces in his life. Growing up in Jeonju, South Korea, Park was raised by his family to have Christian values, and raised by a society that adopted a Confucian belief system. It preoccupied him as a child in a way that it didn’t seem to for the kids around him.

Though Park recalls struggling to mix with other schoolchildren, these experiences also became a driving force in his work years later. The artist, now based in Gwangju-Si, near Seoul, draws on his acute awareness of how customs and values can clash or overlap with one another when individuals are bundled together into a social group. Bringing multiple perspectives can produce awkward or tense outcomes, a little like Park’s aesthetic.

His pieces are typically filled with curious angles and an obscured sense of perspective; while there is shadow work that provides depth, his figures have the blunt edges of a flat cut-out, as though they have been dropped into social scenes without truly being within them.

Reflecting his own background, the primary influences on Park’s work are varied, but they mostly stem from those formative years. He is partly influenced by the “simple yet harmonious” graphics seen in the 8-bit games he played when he was growing up. At the same time, he draws on the artworks of the Joseon dynasty, the empire that lasted in Korea for over 500 years, which he encountered in museums on family trips.

His artworks will go on display at London’s Moosey gallery in an exhibition named Where is the Point – a title that seems to nod to the image of a “cat chasing after a laser beam, captivated by the light”, which spurred the entire series. This idea is incorporated directly into some of the pieces in the show, which feature human figures raising their arms in the air towards a laser beam that’s pointing down at them.

In a sense, it’s an interrogation of authority, and of the people and forces that shape our actions and thinking, yet in the series, light also became a recurring motif representing subjectivity. As the artist points out, light can dazzle us, but it can also help us to see: “Without light, we cannot see anything,” he says. It’s all just a matter of perspective.

Where is the Point runs at Moosey, London from February 3-25;