Cups

Shan Hur (1980 - )

Painted bronze sculpture

2012

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  • About the work
    In Cups, three everyday polystyrene coffee cups sit one on top of the other rather like a totem pole, their outside surfaces painted in perfectly harmonising shades of blue, green and orange. However these objects are not what they seem: Shan Hur has recreated the cups in bronze, wittily subverting the idea of these as throwaway items and conferring on them a new status as bronze sculptures.  

    This work was initially part of a project in 2012 in which Hur positioned a number of small objects around a building on the South Bank in London. The audience was encouraged to seek out 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; for example, Hur has worked 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 how 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. 

  • About the artist
    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).
  • Explore
    Places
    Subjects
    cup
    Materials & Techniques
    bronze, bronze sculpture, painted
  • Details
    Title
    Cups
    Date
    2012
    Medium
    Painted bronze sculpture
    Dimensions
    height: 30.00 cm, width: 8.00 cm, depth: 10.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Gazelli Art House, July 2013
    Provenance
    purchased from Gazelli Fine Art, London, July 2013
    GAC number
    18528