At times, the ancient bygone days of art prove to become a burden weighing upon the art of today. When we scrutinize art history that delineates its origin to the Paleolithic, art seemingly suffers from the obligation of completing the unfinished tasks of its forefathers or overthrowing the ostensibly finished and polished legacy handed down. Along these lines, art in 2020 thrusts in our face the impeccable records of art, surpassing or violating its predecessors as it constantly calls for and craves originality. "Now, it's your turn. Create something new."
Now and again, art strikes us as a presence without tangible substance owing to its capricious nature, coveting novelty and invariably resorting to new forms, meanings, and demeanors. Or, have we been playing along the lines of a stage replete of preposterous acts in attempt to revive a presence that perished a century ago? Unlike records portraying art as the shepherd of the times, art, incapable of a complete subversion or outright violation, resembles a disoriented voyager in the open sea who lost their compass—not the unfettered hitchhiker-esque traveler. I am overwhelmed with skepticism or the urge to flee when I carry this hefty art on my back, struggling to add one more line to it.
How does the world appear when we avert our eyes from art? In 2020, a time far apart from the millennium, we live in an abstract and incomprehensible period that meticulously weaves the virtual and the real. Scientists validate the facets of the world inconstruable by human; and AIs and virtual realities threaten the existence and life of human. How much longer can we sustain this weighty concern and contemplation about those that may not have existed in the first place-whether it be art or oneself? Perhaps the anxiety over death underlies the burgeoning of an increasingly lighter era. We may be endeavoring to dispel the weight of presence that includes our very self and approach it lightly, to yank off the fear and discomfort of death or disappearance. Let's treat art light as if a joke; with more transparency. Let's become oblivious of the bygone days that presses us down.
Once again, the exhibition Light and Crystalline faces art in an akin manner. And the five artists invited to this exhibition are also interpreted as those who maintain this attitude. The artists put emphasis on phenomenon-visible or invisible-or personal values, sensibility, senses, and emotions over the matter of existence or art historical values conveyed through paintings.
Artist Seeun Kim focuses on the kinesthetic property explosively exposed through a combination of geographical zone and human activity; Noh-wan Park empathizes the uncanny scenery observed from abandoned or petty objects. Sikyung Sung experiments with painting per se while simultaneously depending on one's own senses to perfect his frame; Heejoon Lee imparts the sensual features of the cityscape or the world seen via SNS on to his canvas. Last but not least, Heemin Chung expresses the lightness of digital images and the vacuousness and melancholic sensitivity lying at its ulterior through her works.
These features are reflected in not only the subject of the works but also their material, expression, and attitude. They seem to diverge from the feud or conquest of materiality—the supposedly fatalistic task of the painter. Rather, the artists explore various materials and figure out the adequate material for one's desired expression, then pertinently blends the property of the material to one's work. Seeun Kim uses water soluble oil colors and Noh-wan Park comes up with the texture he pursues by adding rubber solution into watercolors. Heemin Chung and Heejoon Lee utilize the quality of gel medium which is crystalline yet quick in forming thickness. Analogously, the will to heavily and obsessively pack the frame does not surface from their expressions. The canvas is exposed in an utterly vacant state at times; or the colors upon it expose its bottom color as the paints are laid in the state of neighboring juxtaposition or a clear and thin application, rather than as opaque multiple layers heaped on each other. These expressions seemingly depict our world through its pace and breezy rhythm.
Meanwhile, no one can deny the nostalgia and melancholy of existence reflected in the exhibition's ulterior. Those seem to negate or dismiss the gravity of existence; but they actually may be the articulation of will to overcome nostalgia and fear of an era when existence was not doubted, and attempt to live life once again. Perhaps, the heaviness of existence affixed on the ulterior of lightness may not leave our side. If so, it might as well been better for history to be left undocumented. For the sake of a light and crystalline life of the present.
Press release courtesy ONE AND J. Gallery.