We can refer to an artistic attitude which seeks depth and is not content with superficial depictions of the object-whether naturalism or abstractionism as ‘contemplative art. We’d like to explore this aspect in Daegu art today from its character, summarizing this as the spirit of ‘tradition, ‘openness, ‘authenticity, and ‘pursuit of reality.”
Curated by KIM Youngdong
Artist Son Kyu Ho once worked in sculpture and installation with the theme of nature’s life force which he found in the ecology of plants. Son used to be obsessed with work addressing introspection of historical facts and daily life. As in motifs such as fresh sprouts and barbed wire fences that are a projection of anti-life reality or a symbolization of historical contradiction, he presents remarkable individuality both with modeling quality of forms and their connotation. The forms with multiple meanings remain balanced in pursuit of modeling beauty, hinting at some messages. Son uses a wide range of materials and objects, conspicuously applying them to the themes he sets. He places particular importance on tension derived from the material’s character, visual form, and composition, maintaining an attitude anchored to sculptural thinking, closely relating form and material to theme.
Artist Lyu Jae Ha majored in painting in college, but his accomplishments stand out more in his work after graduation, in the fields of sculpture and video. In his early days Lyu did installations of new concepts breaking down pre-existing genres through a conflation of objects with digital video images. The artist executes more dynamic audiovisual three-dimensional work through the coalescence of video images and sound. He recently drew lots of attention with the Video Façade projected onto the Deoksugung Junghwajeon in the “video mapping” technique. Lyu has continued experimenting with the same technique while diversifying mediums and spaces. He has pursued a fusion and exchange of genres such as object installation, digital video and music in collaboration with other artists.
Park Hye Bong’s sculpture places emphasis on representing “human characters in the city devastated by contradiction and absurdity,” addressing humans confined to the existential situation of modern times. He recently draws attention with works projecting human looks onto worn-out, weathered natural stones. Park is particularly interested in urbanites in his figure studies since he feels sympathy to the existential situation they undergo. He is attached to expressing “those living a life, going through all kinds of hardships and enduring pain.” Feeling strong human love for them, the artist would like to gain unrestricted expressions without being confined to any mode or form.
Kim Seong Soo’s wooden sculpture originates from puppets. Due to illness as a child and the resulting hardships, he was artistically inspired by wooden marionettes. The sorrowful, beautiful puppets suspended on a funeral bier have become the subjects for which he realizes his dream and communicates with others. Kim has established his own distinctive, formative language through the technique of carving humble, rough wooden dolls, evolving it with a contemporary sense. Moreover, he has realized the value of ordinary people’s emotion dwelling in traditional arts. Kim displays his understanding of and affection for diverse human types and their lives through wooden puppets in variegated colors and with diverse looks. He generates more abundant narratives by hanging them or giving them movements, applying contemporary, sculptural techniques. He enjoys amusement with the objects, recollecting their dream and fantasy.
For artist Yoo Myung Soo, art is “an exploration of the beautiful.” He believes art should “encapsulate meaning beyond even the beauty of a flower in bloom.” The artist is particularly attached to landscape painting since he feels a sense of crisis concerning the natural environment in the rural area. Yoo fears it may be severely destroyed by development, and he feels regretful about the area’s reality. As the beauty of nature is sensed unintentionally, his works enable viewers to relish nature itself without forcing any meaning. The salient features of his landscape painting place an emphasis on the natural sense--avoiding adornment and overstatement--and on the marks of persistent attempts to meet the truth of objects. Although everyone can find the places he depicts with ease, Yoo creates his own distinctive landscapes by underlining his firsthand experience.
Choi Sung Gyu’s scenes are full of chaotic images and document traces which are very different from the value modernist painting pursues. The artist conveys ambiguous narratives adapted in the middle of imagination and reality in expressionist, rough brushwork. His painting appears candid as if reflecting emotional incongruity and inner horror. Alluding that we have to put emphasis on only the act of painting rather than some value of painting, Choi admits his images appear as desired. Through his painting he always tries to face “aporia,” rejecting meaning while also looking for meaning. The narratives his work conveys always fail in terms of communication but are of significance because they are “resistant” against the established and “struggle with horror and fear.”
Artist Mun Sang Jik unfolds lucid, mental landscapes tinged with bucolic lyricism in naturalist, pictorial idioms. Mun gently depicts peaceful scenes in oil painting such as a flock of sheep, exuding a pacific, fantastic atmosphere. After diverse variations of objects for an ideal composition, his landscapes now become imaginary images. Poet Lee Tae-su said while contemplating Mun’s “mental, imagery-like, figurative painting” that one feels he is in the landscape itself, bedrenching his heart in “a magnetic field” that makes even his feet feel like they are floating in the sky. His world imbued with fine lyricism is filled with gentle curves and flexible, warm hues--instead of acute, geometric angles--proceeding toward an innocent, lucid world. Even “cool spiritualism” is sensed in his simple yet consistent pursuit.
Artist Kim Hee Soo works on figurative painting with a narrative which addresses the theme of humans. Defining it as “something like a shadow in reality,” Kim’s work adopts profound metaphorical expression rather than directly reflecting a real story. His painting seems to be the space of illusion created through his insight into the real world and his imagination. Kim has a special talent for charcoal drawing. His impromptu, actual practice is also distinctive in that his brush strokes are made by applying watercolor. Kim’s world is “like the shadow of a shadow” as a result of condensing and distilling numerous thoughts on reality. It is an imaginary space constructed with his peculiar eye and form but feels more vivid and real.
Artist Jung Tae Kyung shows restrained expressionism, portraying primary subject matter such as flowers, plants, and human bodies by swiftly applying plain colors with broad brushes. Line delineations that look like brush strokes in ink painting are impressive. Intense color renditions are also conspicuous as if implying he was once immersed in color abstraction. Jung depicts objects with unreserved hands, demonstrating refined senses and dynamic images. Recent works are illustrated with oil sticks instead of brushes. Reviews proclaim that by adding moderate brushwork to the traces left by rubbing and erasing, they look like lyric poems with rich pictorial qualities. His poetic titles like I go to hometown are symbolic of the ultimate goal his art seeks.
Works by Miok Chung are geometrical abstract paintings composed of regular lines and colors. Like the effect aroused when applying paints in gradation, gradational change of light, shade, and color provoke a fantastic resonance. It is characterized by the visuality of optical art and the simplicity, repeatability and lucidity of minimal art. The gradational color spectrum brings forth the synesthetic senses of the visual while simultaneously producing aural musical melodies. The artist attempts to create new work by applying the experience she has in making prints to the canvas. The objective and rigid features remind viewers of the mechanical technique of printmaking. Chung amazingly showcases her ability to present the planned proportion of color and form as a simple “game of light and color” without revealing her strenuous patience. We are able to feel joy in her work that we could not experience in subjective, expressionist painting.
Artist Song Kwang Ik’s encounter with “hanji,” or traditional Korean paper, was a turning point from his previous expressionist painting to his present constructive, object work. Song creates ribbings vertically and/or horizontally, and then puts thin paper pieces on them at a certain height, filling his scene with tiny compartments. As the compartments are in a continuation of homogeneous forms, they can be extended horizontally and vertically in diversity and variability. Moreover, sensuous diversity can be lent to them by dying or coloring the paper pieces. His work demands lots of time and labor, and it is said that the artist feels a sense of unity, breathing with his material’s physical property. The forms constructed through an accumulation of simple, repetitive actions bring about emotional agitation, going beyond visual, tactile stimulus.
As one of the generation artists of Daegu’s experimental, contemporary art movement, artist Ro Jung Ki began his career with pure abstract work. Around the 1990s, however, he converted to a remarkably post-modernist tendency. Ro protests that art cannot be separated from cultural situations or social reality, and he reflects this in his work. Ro pursued figuration and abstraction simultaneously in the technique of collaging narrative photographs. Recently, Ro puts stress on naturally depicted forms with freewheeling, playful drawing. His style--which reveals abstract expressionist color and images associated with dreams, the unconsciousness, and desire--is close to neo-expressionist painting. While exploring diverse trends of contemporary art in accordance with a change in the spirit of the times, he does not lose intense expressiveness or an experimental spirit.