Wonsuk Han confesses, "I'm a culprit. I'd been thr owing away 73000 pieces, 20 butts a day for 10 y ears. I'm a regreter. I've been picking up 2430 pi eces a day for a month. His claim piques my curio sity. What made him a culprit? And now what ma kes him a regreter. The numbers that explain his l ast 10-year activities are not good enough to crac k the meaning behind them.
To quench my thirst for the answer, I decided to read the story underneath the “regreter” from Wonsuk Han’s artworks in person.
Wonsuk Han’s paradoxical comparison of a human with a mere cigarette butt portrays contemporary people who ignite their existential values like a burning cigarette butt. A cigarette’s self-sacrificing devotion to provide five- minute ephemeral pleasure to human beings is discarded in a second and falls into the abyss of oblivion. No time to appreciate its sublime instant fate. Millions of people who are still pursuing the gaudy snobbism of consumer society are like the smoldering tip of a butt that cynically symbolizes the stupidity of modern day people who are marching toward the land of waste and oblivion. Han urges people to wake up and see the two faces of this doomed reality; pleasure and pain.
Therefore, Han’s art cruises on the sharp edge of pleasure and pain. The gigantic flower image on the front of the “Burning” seduces people with its erotic colorfulness that reminds me of the female sexual organ. Ironically, what attracts people to the artwork is not pleasing scent but disgusting odor. The smell is a key to entering the realm of regretting space and a pill to wake up from a long sleep in the poisoned world. It takes courage for people to gladly swallow the bitter pill that will help them to realize the pain behind the pleasure. What he tries to say seems to be clearly mirrored on the surface of his cigarette canvas. Typical black-and-white dichotomy such as beauty and disgust, life and death, you and I is blurred on the surface of his cigarette canvas. They are all glued and tied just like a densely assembled cigarette butts. The only way to be immune to the poison of “The Flower of Evil” is to recover human environment and rebuild human value.
Han is spreading the bitter pills around the world. If you don’t want to swallow the bitter pill, then love yourself, love your family, and love your environment. But I think I need more bitter pills that will help me to wake up from my 30-year old habit. Therefore, I’m still standing in front of Han’s artworks.
Daehyung Lee _Curator, Gallery Artside, 2003