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Life: The Low Place | 2011년 06월 09일 13시 46분

Plants as a sign, looking for a meeting point between nature

and an intentional image:

Kwon Heeyeon's recent work

 

by Art critic Kim Bokyoung, Ph.D.

(a formal professor at Hongik University and President of Korea Society for Science of Art and Design Association)

 

 

1

Kwon Heeyeon's recent works are crowded with nameless plants. The grasses have forms but the land in which they take root is unsure and they do not float up into the sky or the air. The features of the grasses are just plants in appearance but they are not plants particularly. They are 'signs' similar to plants and grasses as signs.

As a sign, a grass becomes wider from the pointy end to the center of the body then becomes slack. The brush strokes are slender and straight and usually bright or dark white, red, and yellow strokes on the five colors of background. There are speedy strokes which stand out or comfortable and wide strokes. A view from above is applied to the front paintings and same level sight or a view from below are used for the rear paintings. Also two part paintings which divided into the sky and the earth or the section paintings that used grids are unique. There are milk and crimson colored paintings.

The front painting is superior that used Korean five secondary colors such as blue, red, light yellow and green in the background and Korean five primary colors such as white, yellow, and red in the strokes. Each grass resembles each other, but the curves and the vectors are different depending on the features of grouping, so that their appearances are various. The groups of plants are like the great Galaxies and remind of the extensive and spacious great emptiness behind the group of plants. Each grass assigns the fullness and emptiness, gathering like clusters of stars or vacating. Kwon's recent works show loose or compact diverse densities by the arrangement of distinction. The works remind of nebulas or barley fields or hills of swamps, or meadows which grasses grow arbitrary.

The two part paintings divided into the sky and the earth with same level view or views from below, and the section paintings parceled out the screen with grid. The two part paintings consist of the narrow blue sky and the wide dark gray earth or the wide dark gray sky and the more or less narrow red earth. The pictorial space represents the gentle and slow brush strokes which blow away from the heavy land to the vacant sky following the movement of atmosphere. The section paintings continued the atmosphere and the front paintings with mild and red colors show smooth and round spectrum and refined composition.

 

2

In , the plants are almost nameless which can be met with everywhere. The plants are not like plants, but signs which are very alike.

Kwon brought the grasses as representatives which are very small and the molecular units of nature for a meeting point between nature and an intentional image. That is to apply the theory of intention and image to nature. She abbreviated the shapes of plant like signs, so that it once reminds East Asia's character that simplified strokes and possessed shapes to understand nature.

If a Chinese painting theorist sees Kwon Heeyeon's plants painting, she or he would conceive that is not that different from Chinese traditional painting styles that retrace from Lao-tzu (Taoism) through Gu Kaizhi and Zhang Yanyuan and may say that the painting is not different to poems in paintings, as it is called. Also, if Western art theorist look at Kwon's painting, he or she would think that it doesn't deviate from St. Thomas' thoughts in Scholasticism. Thomism which condensed into 'right regulation of reason(recta ordinatio rationis)'says that the significance of a painting is to disclose the logos of God, using a trifle. This rudder maintains firmly from Medieval art to contemporary Western art, led by intellectualism such as balance, symmetry, perfection, and clearness.

Kwon Heeyeon's philosophy and intention of painting may be based on Western and Eastern aesthetic knowledges as well but Korean philosophy would be more appropriate to understand Kwon's work than Chinese or Western philosophies.

In short, Kwon Heeyeon's could be contemplated in Korean styles and philosophy. First of all, her ‘intention’ is based on ‘image’. For example, the pure concept and subjective intention in abstract paintings are excluded. In a broad concept, the intention includes all the consciousness and behavior to face and encounter nature without a distance and the gap between nature and picturer.

On the other hand, Korean traditional thoughts do not have Tao, the most significant canon of Chinese advanced epochs (B.C. 7th century) except Teogye school in the middle of Chosun and the later development of Sung Confucianism which are Korean versions of Chinese Chu Hsi Confucianism (Zhuzixue). Korean inherent ancient world view has the most significant canon is Daeeugae which means ‘great, round, and one’ instead of Chinese Tao. In other words, it is ‘Hannim’ that is God and Providence but not Western God or Chinese Tao. ‘Han’ has several meanings, but broadly it means ‘the name which exists by oneself and daren't close. The kernel of ‘Han’ is ‘GongGyu’. Gong means leaving from personal thing and ‘Gyu’ compresses the philosophy of Daewonil which ‘exists alone and above all and round’ and comprises the three directions of Mooguk, Daeguk, and Taeguk. Its exemplary is ‘measuring the earth with the shadow of the sun’.

Secondly, an ‘image’ is, just like ‘intention’, premises intention and vice versa, and the image is definitely different from tracing or copy (Hyungsa) that has nothing to do with intention. The image is connected closely with ‘Nim’ in Hannim (God) that is an incarnation of Han(God) and the origin of images. The ‘Nim’ is the first cause(causa prima) of all the images, and all creation and the universe appeared in ‘Nim (In)’. Therefore, the image of the three things in nature such as the sky, the earth, and human contains the characteristics of Daewonil which is great, round, and one.

Then again, in Korean thought and philosophy, images do not depart from ‘intention’ and intention does not depart from images. That is also congruous to contemporary world view of the quantum theory that today's up-to-date world view has no dichotomy or dualism in terms of images and intention. In Korean thought, It was very natural to understand all nature and all things without those theory and intention and image are expedients not substances, therefore Korean inherited world views rather corresponds to contemporary world views.

To read Kwon Heeyeon's plant painting, one should not separate between images and intention, conceiving that the artist simplified the image of plant to gain the preexisted intention. Those are the understanding of Chinese philosophy or Scholastic philosophy not Korean philosophy.

 

In , the vegetable world is quiet and still but reiterate to fill the space in circulation. That is silent under the given space, and vertically rises up and expanded above the space. (Kwon, 2009).

 

What Kwon which mentioned her plant implies a meeting point between nature and an intentional image, images and an intentional image. The grasses are a convergence between the two different things. Kwon sought for the origin of ‘landscape but not that an actual scenery’ in the meeting point. Her research questions follow. ‘What makes the reiterate flow and the gap in plants?’ ‘What is the thing which accepts the given space and rise up vertically, then make the space?’ Her sign of plants is in the convergence between signifier and signified.

demonstrate signs and a semiotic process(semiosis). Her signs exist with creation and function in the creation. The technical term is ‘analogia’ and prat븊ya-samutpada in Huayan philosophy(Avatamsaka Sutra).

In Kwon Heeyeon's work, there is no dichotomy between intention and images. The intentional image and nature are products of prat븊ya-samutpada (analogia) and namely, products of a semiotic process. However, the sign as a semiosis is different from ‘Semiotic Triangle’ in contemporary Western philosophy of the differentiation between signifier and signified.

 

The grasses naturally flow and harmonize in single color and make one scenery, curtain, screen, and landscape. As a landscape, borrowing the signs from the natural world, it becomes independent from nature. It is the motive of drawing the growth process and vitality of grasses which grow up in the lowest place of the earth. Accordingly, I anticipate that the reason and the providence of nature have mutual understanding into the human life. (Kwon, 2009).

 

Kwon Heeyeon suggests that the plant mediates nature and initiates a meeting point between nature and intentional images. Thus, Her grasses as a sign are not for themselves but for the intermediation.

3

Kwon Heeyeon's aesthetic journey to reach goes back to her series of in the late 1990s. Her work has gone through three times changes to the present. The early works dealt with the life of working-class people such as a shoeshine old man, middle aged workers, and workwomen. At that time, the tonality of black ink and colors were used as a main medium. Then, she moved to close-up flower drawings with colors on the background of forests or trees on Korean traditional Jangji paper. The distant view is in soft silhouette and the foreground shows the stylized a white orchid, a lily, or wild small Siberian chrysanthemum in delicacy, omission and simplification.

displays Kwon's third styles since 2007. This latest works seek out a meeting point between nature and intentional images. The graphic strokes created the rhythm of grasses, gradually the canvas was divided into two parts, the color fields of five color sections by grids partitioned, or refined milk and crimson color paintings were added.

In her early painting of working-class people, she used black-and-white ink and little of colors and gradually developed colors, then these days she uses the minimum amount of black ink and the maximum amount of colors freely.

Her subjects consistently deal with ‘lifes of the low places’. ‘The low places’ are mainly the low class people's exhausting lifes through the forest overgrown with trees to the grass fields.

Kwon's ‘low places’ have a close connection with habitation of life. Geotropism is accented in an premise that life begins in the earth. Geotropism is the lower and a counter part, meanwhile the prayers of Christians such as ‘thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ and ‘have mercy on the low place’ are the higher part. Those are expressions of compassion and love to the low and humble things. As a lower part of signified, Geotropism makes a connection to the circulation of life to the earth, using the characteristic that the roots of plants head for the earth by the law of gravity. On the other hand, the higher part of signified stipulates the circulation of all lifes as astropism of life and embraces it with Christian's heart.

Kwon Heeyeon's latest works has differentiations, compared with the styles of Korean traditional paintings from Gyeomjae Jung Sun through Chungjun Lee Sangbum. Meanwhile, most of painters have wandered between the two, and bound by the dichotomy of Southern and Northern Schools of Song Dynasty. Moreover, they have followed Jinkyung (read view landscape) blindly without reexamination of its real meaning and application for the contemporary time, and have continued the styles and manners. There has been customs of selecting one alternative thoughts which prevailed that Korean painting should be one among real, actual, or daily life scenery, or that should be imaginary landscape with intentional images, or actual scenery landscape with depiction of shapes.

Kwon Heeyeon's latest works are significant that the artist tries to cope with these dichotomies and find the third own way. Kwon's next progress is worthy of note.

 

09, 08

 

 

 
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