A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Kang, Ik-Joong

Other Names: 강익중; 姜益中

Artist Website
Male
Asian American, Korean, Korean American

"It wasn't until the bginning of 1984 that I deided to start my small paintings. Since then I've never left the house without an empty canvas in my pocket. [A] large amount of my paintings (especially the ball-point pen series) were done either in the subway trains or walking on the street. Because of the size of my paintings (3"x3"), I can utilize any materials (paint, clay, metal, rice, plastic, etc…) into my work easily and therefore transferring them into a strong artistic object/painting.

When I arrived in the U.S. four years ago, I had very little idea what lay ahead of me. In those first few years, I feel as though I've seen and experienced more things than I've ever done in my whole life. Within those experiences [was] the realization that as one human being who just landed in an unfamiliar place, I would have to use my curiosity to its fullest extent to explore my surroundings and its different capacities. As an artist from the orient who eats Kimchi and rice every morning instead of pancakes and eggs, my daily experiences in America brought strong changes I wanted to relay into my art work. Curiosity about the new circumstances stimulated me to have desire in trying to explore every corner of unexplored regions.

This desire of exploration brought on by my new environment gave me new found strength and I became more adventuresome. I became less hesitant in picking up a torn piece of paper or other objects from the street and incorporating them into my art. Thus I was more aware of my surroundings and was more open to listen to sounds of my daily thoughts. One of the most important [factors] my paintings bring forth is the process—the process in which the materials are collected, added, taped, typed, drawn and [then] attached to be used for a certain object/painting I desire. Collecting these materials from everywhere I go became an important routine in my daily life.

In an effort to expand my knowledge about this culture and to quench the thirst to learn more, I took a bus trip to Seattle, Washington from New York in 1984 […] And everywhere I went, there were people. There were farmer, hunters, teachers, railroad workers etc. […] When I returned to New York, I was engaged in the daily task of riding the subway. In one of the subway stations, I saw tiles in neat rows covering the walls. Their small square shapes and its multiple quantity from one end to the other, neatly in rows made me realize that the size and the quantity of tiles present to me strong indication of space and time. When seen in a glimpse […] from the other side of track, the initial impact of the immense quantity provoked me to react to its immense quantity of tiles as one big tile. But when I looked close, each tile stood alone. I moved my eyes from one tile to the next, from set to set where the process began all over again."

Ik-Joong Kang, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works