Helen Cho (1969) is a Korean-born Canadian artist currently based Berlin, Germany and Ajax, Canada. Helen Cho earned a Diploma in Painting and Drawing from Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD U) and an MA from Goldsmiths College (UK). Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Magnus Müller, Derek Eller Gallery, Martin van Zomeren, Articule, AceartInc. Group exhibitions include Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Kunstverein Wolfsberg, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Ssamzie Space, National Museum of Contemporary Arts (Korea), Kumho Museum, Artspeak and Moran Museum. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants from Canada Council of the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council), United Kingdom.
Helen Cho’s recent artistic practice also explores this language of repetition, simplicity of reduction and etymology of single unit-like structures, and is partly inspired by Dan Flavin’s series of white fluorescent lamp sculptures, “Monument to V. Tatlin” (1964 -1990), itself an homage to Vladimir Tatlin’s unrealized utopian design, “Monument to the Third International” (1920). In Cho’s installations, which reference Flavin’s serial methodology, the “units” she employs are colour cloth belts used in the ranking system of martial arts, produced in standard issue colours and sizes. Operating within a system of these given limitations and preconditions, Cho attempts to addresses certain myths of martial arts as a machismo-driven combat activity and as formal discipline -- that the novice’s white belt becomes stained from accumulated years of sweat, dirt and blood to become a master’s black belt-- as a culmination of a spiritual, ritualistic journey and reward for physical and mental strength and suffering. In Cho’s tapestry-like textile constructions, such hierarchical systems are thereby upended (as these martial belts are, in fact, manufactured commercial products accessible to any consumer); they evoke both hierarchy and geometric parity in their grandeur and austerity of their monolithic construction, and the tensions thereby embodied within.