Ripped Cup is what it says it is: a torn polystyrene cup; rubbish that one might see every day of the week. However, it's not what it seems: Shan Hur has recreated the cup in bronze, wittily subverting the idea of it as a throwaway item and conferring on it a new status as bronze sculpture.
This work, along with Cups (2012), was initially part of a project in 2012 in which Hur located a number of small objects around a building on the South Bank in London. The audience were encouraged to find the works – the point being that many of the sculptures initially could be read as detritus but they actually had been remade in expensive materials that belied their humble origins.
Playing with notions of childhood discovery and adventure, Hur’s creation of a mini sculpture trail rests on the idea of transformation – the particular moment when an object or space is reconfigured for a new purpose. Hur is fascinated by construction sites and closed shops as he sees the potential in these spaces for change and in particular for ‘the way that something is revealed in the gap.’
Most of his sculptures have actually been made in spaces in transition; Hur working with the crumbling pillars of a building or cracks in the floor and patiently reconfiguring the existing material. Many of the resulting sculptures are extraordinary feats of engineering: in Ball in the pillar (2011) a basket ball appears to hold up the column of a building, and in Knotted pillar (2013) a perfectly recreated pillar (in resin and foam) is intricately tied like a knot yet appears to support the ceiling. In Lucky Coins, a work from 2010, Hur’s excavations in a disused space revealed buried treasure – only rather than being old coins, current coins were embedded in the floor. Scale is important to Hur, in 2009 he spoke of how:
Sculptures bigger than human scale seem to be exaggerated. One of the issues I have focused on is show to reduce the burden of the volume of sculpture. I then connect this mass to its surroundings, but not just as part of a whole. I think sculpture should communicate with its circumstances.
Shan Hur was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently works and lives in London. He completed a MFA in Fine Art at the Slade (2008–2010).
Hur was a finalist at the Oriel Davies Open 2012, in Newton, Wales, and was awarded the Royal British Society of Sculptors Bursary Award in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include The Wall, Ilju & Seonhwa Gallery, Seoul, Korea; The Door in the wall, Gazelli Art House, London, and 7 Pillars, Gana Art Park, Yangjoo, Korea (2017). He also has had work in numerous group shows including The grass will grow over the city, Hackney Wicked Festival, London, UK (2010); 4482 IV, Bargehouse, London, UK (2011); Architecture as Human Nature, Supermarket-Berlin, Berlin, Germany; (2012); Tainted, Gazelli Art House, London, UK (2013) and the GAC exhibition Eyeful of Wry at Brynmor Jones Library gallery, University of Hull (2017).
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