Yong Ho Ji’s tire sculptures can both sadden and disturb. Yet he works with certain methods, methods we can all learn something from. His work is inspiring, not only for its skill required, but also for the constant betterment he strives for. But what is it about his artworks that can affect viewers in such ways?
Yong Ho Ji’s Artistic Road
It will be easy to write an entire post on Yong’s education, but his path is more than that. His path is about his findings and growth as an artist. That being said, Yong is eager to enhance his skills and methods. His art form isn’t stagnant, as he willingly try new things. His mutant tire sculptures came down a long path and he is still developing them.
Throughout his work on his Mutant collection, he devised better ways to form his sculptures. He went from metal frames to plastic molds. All the while seeking the right way to represent his creatures. To him, his duty as artist is to stay loyal to the “values of art”. We might understand more about his art, if we keep this in mind. These values are “truth, goodness and beauty” (see it here).
Not only does he have high standards of values, but he also has high goals for himself. After seeing great artists’ works, such as Michelangelo’s David, he lost all want to work with normal sculpting materials. There were already unattainable standards there, but still much to learn from.
Instead, he found a material that is original. He did not stop there either. He went further to find what made our time different from that of the great artists. Our time’s problems are after all not the same issues they faced. This too gave Yong something extra to build his artwork on.
His desire to become a great artist in his own way, brought forth the tire sculptures we can use as our inspiration and studies.
Learning Through Experimentation
In 2012, he took a leap and created his Origin works. These works are free of structure to strengthen the idea “what it is in itself”, as Yong puts it. He believes that only God can create out of nothing, but he can still create with what he finds around. But the idea to use shells in his Origin works did not come from nothing. He was experimenting with his usual material: tires.
Yong Ho Ji takes his time to learn from the material he uses. It took him seven years of creating Mutant artworks before he felt he could use it more freely. This freedom allows him new creativity to experiment more. It was through this experimentation that he realised his Origin artworks were not what he had in mind. A new material was needed to create the new concept. Thus he learned the importance of not only the concept, but of how the material and concept work together.
The smooth, but rigid shells are quite a step away from his rough, solid, but flexible tires. Yet, with experimentation, Yong Ho Ji made his Origin collection. This collection can be seen as opposite of his usual work in many ways. Sometimes changing direction can be good for artists in order to remember their own origin.
The Mutant Side of Yong Ho Ji’s Tire Sculptures
Yong Ho Ji’s tire sculptures can be considered as Yong’s artistic origin. He has developed these sculptures from an idea on paper, to a molded sculpture to something seemingly alive.
While these sculptures are obviously not living, their eyes have a gleam and softness to them. See the image of the buffalo below.
His deliberate choices are what makes these mutants so impressive. He builds them up through choosing specific pieces of tires to work with. He also choose the type of tire and whether the tire is worn or highly textured.
Further, every piece needs to be placed in the anatomically correct position in order to enhance the realism. This take study and skill to get correct. The result of Yong’s hard work, helps us understand that art is more than showing your views to the world.
Art is also about knowing rules and breaking it in a way that will benefit your work in the best way. It is about proportion, skill, concept and material. Finally, it is about combining all these separate ideas into one to create your own, unique craft.
After all, we can only learn from great artists; we can’t necessarily overtake. If you strive to pave your own path, as Yong did, you can create something impressive and different. You can create something that will be truly your own to make great.
What is it that you can take away from Yong Ho Ji’s work? Is it not up to us as artists to push our own limits? Must we not keep learning new skills and abilities to better our art?
More Reading: Ryu Han-Seung, assistant curator at the Korean National Museum of Contemporary Art, wrote an impressive piece that sums up not only Yong Ho Ji’s tire sculptures, but also his method. This is a definite read for fans of his work. You can read it here.