“One day, I came across a pile of metal chain dumped on the street,” Young-Deok describes the inspiration for his medium of choice, “It seemed a machine-like thing wriggling as if it had life. I felt like I was looking at a jerking human being lying on the street. At that moment, I thought I might make a human body with this chain, which might be the best material to describe entangled lives of contemporaries. So I started to learn welding techniques and tried to apply them to my artistic work.”
In a workshop filled with welding equipment and plaster models, located in the suburbs of Seoul, Young-Deok and a team of ten dedicated artisans bring the sculptures to life. Imagine a noisy factory space with sparks cascading down from argon gas welding machines, with artisans binding chain together, cranes lifting larger than life sculptures, and equipment such as grinders, cutting tools, chemical products, and plaster throughout – this is a typical scene in the studio. “I enjoy to work alone at the workshop when everybody is gone for the day,” explains Young-Deok, “My artwork is more difficult with larger and more complex shapes and working alone I can solve the complexities easily.”
The creation process begins by disassembling and reassembling the bike or industrial chain so that it is in good condition. Then, after the pose and form are clear to him, Young-Deok creates a 3-D model on his computer, followed by a clay or Styrofoam model which is then covered with plaster to create a mold. After the plaster modeling is complete, the chain is assembled link-by-link around and over the mold. The final step is to treat the piece with a special coating.
Depending on the size of the work, one sculpture takes up to three months, with the disassembling and reassembling of the chain and welding consuming the most time. “This process requires perseverance, so it seems as an ascetic practice,” states Young-Deok, “But I enjoy myself in this process, I think that difficulties are pleasures at the same time.” His family-oriented lifestyle and quiet disposition seem to play out in his work ethics and sculptures.
“It is my intention to feel what the audience sees, to reveal emotions directly without avoiding them,” expresses Young-Deok about his 3-D works, “If they feel it’s beautiful, it will be beautiful, and if they think it’s ugly, it will be ugly; my direction is to be as honest as possible.”
Young-Deok’s collection of contemporary sculptures tells people’s stories and expresses human feelings evoking genuine emotions from its observers – it sends our minds spinning here at the M.A.D.Gallery. Young-Deok has immense talent and fervor, which is apparent through his brilliant and unconventional use of the simple link chain to create powerful works of art.