Dongwook Suh concentrates on inducing fragments of his paintings to be read as integrated through the overall ambience of his works. Starting from 2004, the artist has been drawing a single figure in the entire frame-usually somewhat dreamy beings with arcane facial expressions, staring pointlessly at something. As he emphasized his figures' comprehensive feelings instead of their exterior features or characteristics of personality in his early works, one can notice that he underlined their general atmosphere than realistic portrayals or effects as if he filled the figures' surroundings with his breath and the colors embedded in it. Since 2008, the artist drew full-length paintings of his acquaintances to practice delineating people. By candidly articulating the light of the camera flash, he displays his praises and condolences on the evanescently flickering youth. Perhaps that's why the fiery-eyed figures exude a sense of wandering melancholy than momentary joy. This mood also radiates from the near-drifting image of the figures supposedly resulting from the blurred focus, the seemingly floating bodies of the figures standing firmly on the ground, and the depiction of the air circling them.Read More
These kinds of expressions analogously show up in his landscapes of this period. Though the subject changed from human beings to buildings, cars, or heavy machinery, the subject evokes the overall ambience of the painting as it is centered in the frame. Uniquely, his landscapes generate a lonesome impression regardless of the time zone they capture. The yellow lights in his nocturnal landscapes are reflected or form shadows, kindling loneliness and a certain moment of coinciding elevation. In 2013, Suh stopped working on both film and painting and started devoting his time to paintings. The artist stated that the artistry of painting is produced through the effort and discipline of the artist, and the originality of a work is yielded through the individual accumulation of assiduous times. This thought led the artist to center upon paintings which was reflected in Suh's solo exhibition, Art of Painting, around this period. Supposedly in search of painting's technical essence, he delved into the traditional expressions of paintings, inquiring into the texture-composition and light-composition inside the frame and experimenting with the angle of the brush tip. His paintings grew exquisite while maintaining its distinct atmosphere as he continued this study of expression. We can feel the subtle gaze of the artist prying into the moments of elevation as we trace the paintings' delineations during this term, precisely portraying the figures' facial expressions and backdrops. These instants do not accomplish something or intensely display one's identity; instead they exhibit the inner emotions of the figures in their personal spaces such as their bedroom or living room at the moment of emptiness. Since 2014, Suh composed more elaborate backgrounds using natural sunlight. More complicated emotions and times came to be constituted in a frame alongside this sort of change which aroused the sense of delayed or stretched time rather than an instantaneous snap-shot-esque scene. Meanwhile, starting from this period, his works were assigned the role of testifying the era regardless of the artist's intentions. This results from the artist's depiction of the figures' apparels, props, and the furniture and appliances enclosing them, which lead to an inevitable display of spatial characteristics unlike his previous paintings that effaced the features of place. In his 2017 solo exhibition Atmosphere, Suh embedded painterly elements in his paintings as he started leaving vivid brush strokes on his works. For a long while, he progressed in his study of paintings like he was writing a new chapter of painting's small history through his works.the world and the canvas, the two artists have conducted their examination of paintings as many painters do. This search cannot end and will keep going as it reflects the change of life and the concomitant shift of gaze and attitude performed through the artists' lives. However, it is not easy to revisit their works of scrutiny once time passes after one or two exhibitions of it.
Text courtesy ONE AND J. Gallery.