Byung Hoon Choi’s Water Meditation

I clearly remember the first time I have seen the work of Korean artist/designer Byung Hoon Choi, because his language, which is so well rooted in Zen Buddhism, had appealed to me as a yoga practitioner from the very beginning. His minimalist furniture and objects are typically made of clay, granite, and stones, and his imagery combines nature with the most authentic ways of crafting materials and bringing them into forms of balance and peace. Now that Friedman Benda is opening “Water Meditation,” Choi’s second solo show in New York, it is time to experience his magical objects again. This time Choi surprises us and limits the materials to lacquer and basalt, two earthy materials that, in his hands contradict, yet complement one another. While the lacquer represents Choi’s Korean heritage, it rests on the stone almost like a pool of water, emphasizing its hardness. The title of the show comes to suggest those liquid surfaces that rest on the rough stones, and also reflects the spirit of the work, the affiliation to nature, and the aesthetic pleasure that one typically experiences visiting Buddhist gardens, of both contemplation and meditation.

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