2008/04/17 Youngkeun Park-Kwangjin Choi Interview
Youngkeun Park-Kwangjin Choi Interview




Kwangjin Choi: I know that you have six daughters. Did you have a plan to found a woman's volleyball team?


Youngkeun Park: I think it is human nature to meet, love, blessed with children, give birth and raise them. It was normal for my parents' generation to raise 6-7 children however nowadays I can see the times have changed and people consider me to be a bit peculiar.


Choi: Did you have a special moment that made you start painting?




Park: I envied a friend of mine carrying paints and brushes in a fancy box when I was in elementary school. I bought paint with money I earned from newspaper delivery as a young child. I joined in school art club since I was in junior high simply because I just loved art.




Choi: You attended Seoul National University in the 1980's. Did you have any artists or professors who had influence on you from that period?




Park: My college years were economically challenging times, and I think I can say I learnt how to live as a human being-prior to being an artist- and also theoretical knowledge in art.




Choi: It was critical period when the sharp conflict between authentic fine arts and people's arts was growing heavy. Where did your position your lie in such a conflict?




Park: Back then I had a question on art reflecting social reality and participating in social movements. I found similarities between the art movements of Korea in 1980's and German Expressionism or art movements that took place in China. I was more interested in works describing inner agony of man without employing vivid shapes nor drastic contrast such as Jean Fautrier's <Hostage>.




Choi: Your recent works contain concrete shapes, and yet I believe that those shapes hold different meanings from those found in realistic artworks. What was your motive and the significance in putting shapes in your works?




Park: It was since 2005 that I drew shapes into my artworks. In 1991, I squeezed the paint right out of the paint tube and onto the canvas and rubbed it with hands for my first solo exhibition. After that I worked on abstract pieces with black and white, and I grew temporary interest on how shapes of things move and change. Then I realized that I am a member of generation stuck in between the older and younger generations, the analogue generation and the digital generation. I realized that I had to acquire digital culture to survive, and I used traditional images flowing online such as swords and spears which appear a lot in cyber games.




Choi: Could you explain more specificly on what kind of symbolic definition you give to those shapes?




Park: I am trying to reflect diverse thoughts of the viewers seeing the work and the ideas of people who dealt with images. I am caught in between the creators of images and viewers.




Choi: I could interpret that as the images hold subjective and personal significance in the sense that the meaning is not exactly defined and fixed but changes through its creators and viewers. I saw many apples in your recent works. Do those have any significance?




Park: Apple has always been a subject matter many artists dealt with throughout times and places. The apple of Cezanne was a starting point for him to be referred to as the father of contemporary art. In Christianism, there is the Apple of Adam. It says the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Bible, but I believe its general idea came from an apple. There also is Sir Newton's apple who made him to realize the gravitational law, and there was Spinoza who tried to plant an apple tree even if the end of the world comes tomorrow. Other significant apples that general public is familiar with could include William Tell's apple with political intentions- I tried to interpret the meaning of the apples through my own version of ideas.




Choi: Semiologists or poststructuralists argue that all the meanings in languages are not fixed but delayed and changed according to context and their relation to other languages. You mean that the significance of an apple also differs on which historical context it is placed in. It is very authentic of you to draw on your canvas with a grinder. How did you get to employ grinders in your work?




Park: I got married in 1988 and rented the 4th floor of a building. Back then my works took a long time to dry because I worked with thick layers of oil paint. Then one time my daughter ate the undried paint. After the incident I moved my atelier to the rooftop. The condition up there was very sensible to the changes of the weather. Therefore I used lacquer paint because it is a medium that dries up quickly. You could never know when it was going to rain up on the rooftop.

After than I moved to Hanam, Gyeonggi-do and got acquainted to the electrical instrument called a grinder while I was renovating my studio. I observed how the construction workers cut wood or grind iron using fast-revolving grinder. I wanted to acquire the technique to control fast speed. I have a quick temper myself and it is also true that Koreans like to have their work done fast and many side effects occur because of the tendency. However I have not always considered it bad. One has to be quick to run IT business, and doctors need to work fast to lessen the pain of their patients. If one can get his or her work done quickly, it means that he or she has mastered that job. It requires a lot of preparation and practice to reach that stage. For instance, Sagunja(an asian traditional painting of plum-blossom, orchid, chrysanthemums and bamboo-usually painted by scholars) in Korean painting is painted in no time but it requires long and patient preparation. Grinding Muk-ink cake- itself is the starting point of the whole painting process and meditation of the mind.




Choi: Are there any technical difficulties in using a grinder?




Park: At first it was very difficult because I had to control the speed. You need to maintain the tension to control the speed. If the tension is lost even only for a moment, it would end up with a big puncture in the canvas. I intentionally put on some body weight to deal with the work. It was just like how actors puts on weight to play certain roles. I needed to have the body to do the work stably just as if Sumo players do.




Choi: Well, I guess it was lucky that you did not have to lose any weight. Anyway, the free drawings done by grinders liberated and made the rigid objects to turn alive and put aura into them. How did your grinder work proceed in the past?




Park: In the early years, I did serial works such as <Dinner>, <Journey>, <Time>. For <Dinner>, I intended to give life to the culinary plates presented on the canvas with dark background through using carefree drawing. <Journey> series represented our lives as a wanderer in terms of making a cook's tour. It required the speed to leave the traces. In <Time> series, I was interested in objects' sounds such as the tick-tock sounds of an alarm clock. After that I tried to capture auras of the objects by giving life to them. Just like how the thing called civilization begins from a small snowball rolls into a larger and larger snowball, I wanted to hold the tracks of objects run through the ages and spaces within my canvas. Also, I am drawn to putting all the objects in an equal relationship. I also worked on a series titled <Family> to prune the images away. Three branches of a tree symbolizing family spreads out to form a vast forest, and images transcending time and space such as satellite show up. I tried to describe the shapes of the family like entangled veins and arteries.




Choi: I think your works resemble archaeological search in that it tracks down the pedigree and traces of objects or images. I think your freely drawn lines with a sense of velocity deconstructing visual outlines of the images has a connection to the tradition of vigorous energy in asian painting trying to capture the energy within objects.




Park: As far as I know, abstraction is not found in Asian tradition, but there is a tradition of painting out of the mind which captures the spirituality within objects by taking its shape. I too, deeply agree with such ideas.




Choi: The speedy and free drawings that also represent the identity of your work reminds the ecological web of relation hidden beyond the images. I believe that is why heterogeneous objects combined together are not awkward but harmonize within natural unification. Surrealists like Magritte tend to combine two heterogeneous things as well, however I understand their intention of taking heterogeneity to break the rational order of the brain whereas the intention within your works is interpreted as an ecological view of the world that even different objects are linked together by the same energy. I observed that such combination is showing up more often in your recent works. Where do you usually get the inspiration?




Park: I tend to rely on interesting features of everyday lives and imaginations. I go down to my studio even at night if I get an interesting inspiration in my dreams. If I did sculpture, it must have been difficult to be so flexible. I used to skip writing my daily diary from time to time, but I never skipped drawing even only for a day since I was a child, and those drawings from everyday lives sometimes come together to form a work. These days I grew interest in the weak, and it led to drawing David fighting Goliath. In the Bible, David was a mere shepherd but he defeated Goliath by using only five stones and a stick. I chose the simplest media in drawing-paper, canvas, paint- just like David chose the simplest means to fight Goliath. I painted <Self portrait resembling the head of John the Baptist> a while ago upon request of my friend in the art club back in junior high school. I also drew camels based on a notion from El Greco's prolonged works, and the idea of camels led me to drawing acorns. An acorn is a small nut but it is used as money online.(The denomination of cyber-money used in Cyworld.com:famous personal homepage site in Korea is named an acorn) All those ideas rolled into one to form a artwork holding a message that 'For a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God is easier'. As you see, the beginning of allegories of images is very simple but it builds its own links towards various images out there.




Choi: How long does it take to finish a piece?




Park: I need to finish 80% of the work within an hour regardless of the size difference. If I cannot finish the 80%, the tension to produce aura wears away. Other 20% differs from work to work.




Choi: It is similar to production process of Muninhwa(Korean traditional paintings by scholars). Muninhwa painters also completed their works quickly as they had to capture and paint the moment when the object and the subject coincide. Impressionist painters such as Monet painted at great speed for similar reasons. In what order do you proceed with your work?




Park: I paint the object realistically with oil paint and deconstruct it with a grinder before the paint dries. When the paint dries, I grind it again and paint over it several times to reach the state of completion.




Choi: I think the sense of time is very important to your work as it is in ceramic artworks. I think Korean culture takes time more seriously than western culture does. You said you could not skip a day without drawing anything. Where is the charm of painting and what comes to your mind when you face the canvas?




Park: I think I have some sort of phobia of plane white space. Once I confront an empty canvas I panic. Because the large plane surface is where I have to fill in. To recover from it, I build a lot of basement in prior and fill the canvas in after. There is a certain pressure that men in their forties suffer. Younger ones chasing up and older ones are standing above your head still. We feel as if we are in a chase, and to me it is a pressure of filling the empty canvas. It is some sort of obsession I think. My way to deal with it is that I jump in, deal with it first and set it straight.




Choi: Korean art traditionally stresses the process of creating art than the result itself. That is, we have taken art as a means to self-discipline through which we can integrate the subject and the object by absorbing in the infinite repetition than setting an objective for objects.




Park: Thank you for the compliment.




Choi: Young artists are employing various media such as photography or other visual media. Have those media tempted you in any way?




Park: I consider myself not competitive enough when it comes to mathematics or space perception. I still sometimes have nightmares of me sitting a maths test. I am still intrigued in the charm of the plane surface.




Choi: Young artists nowadays are abandoning plane surface painting because they feel that there is no way out. Everything possible on the plane surface has already been created once and they find developing a new style has come to its limits and turn their eyes to photography, installation, images and many more. Do you still have vision towards 2D painting?




Park: I still believe that there is a breakthrough to 2D painting. The artists who are renowned for their talent these days are divided into two types who thoroughly concentrate on manual painting and who develop and utilize new media. Many artists such as Demian Hurst from UK, Nara Yoshimoto from Japan and Zang Xiaogang or Feng Lijun from China have emerged from our generation. I think in Korea has not been an alternative since Nam June Paik.




Choi: I think the major examples of artists who succeeded with 2D painting after Neo-expressionism are of Political Pop in China or Sarcastic Realist artists. The recent emerge of 2D painting in China was possible because it was supported by the social condition of China. China has been through tremendous social conflicts after the inflow of capitalism and it is needless to even mention that it has been in a whirlpool of conflict between the tradition and contemporary. Such social, epochal conflict is giving the themes to the artists. They have cleverly combined realism and pop to find the breakthrough of 2D painting. On the other hand, Korea did not suffer from such harsh social conflicts and People's art which has been an alternative to the Modernists' monochrome paintings failed to accomplish a successful model as they have exclaimed for too much sociality. All those could have contributed to the depression of 2D painting. Do you believe there can be a strategy for Korean artworld which can be distinguished from its Chinese counterpart?




Park: I see complete distinction between Korean artists' work and those of Chinese or Japanese artists. Asian artists presented through the Sotherby's or Christie's have tendency to rely on manual painting. I believe that 2D painting would not extinguish and artworks based on images will be maintained. I am working on juxtaposing images hoping it to play the role of an alternative to have extensive effects.




Choi: Could you explain a bit more specificly on the juxtaposition of images?




Park: For instance, I have a work titled <the instinct to conquer> composed with three panels. A lion symbolizing the West and a tiger symbolizing the East are standing facing each other on each side of the White house. Then I change the order of the lion and the tiger to present that it is leaving the absolute power behind. Same images can hold different meanings by simply changing their order. It represents that the message can change through the power of image and juxtaposition of image which is solely owned by 2D painting. I think that is the advantage of 2D painting.




Choi: Juxtaposition of images was used by surrealists like Magritte and also American postmodern artists of the 1980s such as David Salle and Robert Longo. Their use of juxtaposition had a purpose of deconstruction of sensible order of things. However your juxtaposition of things seems to represent individual and active narration than deconstructing meanings. Exactly how do you get the idea for the combination of images and the narrative messages?




Park: I have been juxtaposing images and images, or images and texts since 2006. I connected a certain person with a flower and wrote chinese proverbs in between. For example, I wrote the proverb 'Drawing water to one's own mill' to remind that while Monet was holding water into the pond to raise and paint the water-lilies, the women of the village could not do the laundry. I also wrote 'Cry over spilled milk' between Rilke and roses. For the works to be exhibited in my solo exhibition in the States, I got an inspiration from the fact that the gallery is located near Hollywood. I am doing works based on the films between 1940s and 1970s and putting flowers in between their backgrounds. If I get to participate in Venice Biennale, I would like to take the works from the artists who won Gold lion prizes and put them in the order of my own, and employ images to support the artworks. Juxtaposition can be presented in millions of ways as different images are put together to meet and connect.




Choi: The juxtaposition of text and image was also done by artists like Barbara Kruger. But I see a difference in the significance. What is the feature that distinguishes your artworks from those of western postmodernists?




Park: The Muninhwa stresses the consistency of poetry, picture and calligraphy. I believe that an artist should be able to write well as well as to paint. I was educated chinese character writing from my father when I was young, and I served as soldier who was in charge of writing in the military. I practise writing English cursive writing even these days. I think everything we presume to have invented is actually based on the tradition. I am starting from such tradition of ours.




Choi: Many animals are seen in your works - what is your intention underneath them?




Park: I have been painting a lot of animals after my exhibition with the theme of animals at Gyeongnam Provincial Museum. I also showed works with animal themes to Seoul Arts Center in 2006 and National Contemporary Museum of Korea in 2007. One of the works had a theme on a woolf and a lamb, and I painted Dr. Wilmert who cloned Dolly the lamb, and I painted Dr. Hwang Woo Seok with 12 lambs on the left side. The funny thing was that Professor Lee of Seoul National University-who was an apprentice of Dr. Hwang's-cloned an woolf for the last time. Back then I thought that cloning animals was like pranking with cloned animals. I was wondering why the first animals to be cloned were a lamb and an woolf. They are very ambivalent creatures. It was very interesting in the process of developing images.




Choi: What inspires you in drawing the images of the animals or texts?




Park: I use internet search a lot. For example, if I paint a horse, I search online on horses and input about 1000 images of horses in my head. Then, I paint the strongest image carved in my memory on the canvas. It is like the picture is coming from my mind process because I do not see the horse and paint but paint based on the image of the horse in my head. There is a lot of random unspecified replies tagged on the images, and I combine them with the image. For instance if you look up an elephant, tremendous load of information will come up such as sacred elephants to the stories how they were used as military weapons and were fed alcohol to fight in the battlefield. I combine the information with the image.




Choi: I see a lot of flowers on your works since a while ago. How did you start to paint flowers?



Park: A few years ago, I painted a carnation on a small canvas for my mother-in-law's birthday. A gallery owner I knew offered me to exhibit it because he loved it so much. Until back then, I considered flowers to be too pretty and commercial to paint. While I was painting flowers, I took a chance to re-think about the flowers I tabooed to paint and dismissed my prejudice towards them, and began to paint flowers related to various people. I gave symbolic meanings by putting together pictures and important figures of the artworld such as Van Gogh and sunflowers, Rembrandt and Tulips symbolizing the bubble economy of the Netherlands, and Water-lily with Monet.




Choi: Could you tell a bit more about recent projects?




Park: I was offered to open an exhibition in a gallery in Bilbao when I participated in Arco Art Fair last year. Then I researched about Bilbao region to prepare for the show. It is the background of Picasso's 'Guernica' and Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory'. Now it is famous for Bilbao Guggenheim building designed by Frank Gehry. So I selected 12 pieces from the works of Picasso and Dali. The number 12 represents 12 apostles of Jesus and 12 animal signs in Korean culture. Then I painted the images in my own version. I also painted a monkey from Picasso's pictures. and juxtaposed them on each side. I once painted my daughter's bicycle and juxtaposed it with a bicycle in Picasso's works. I also painted a watch and Dali's watch together and wrote in as follows: 'Time is a flying arrow.' I also painted a grasshopper because I thought the Dali's moustache resembled that of a grasshopper. I also juxtaposed grapes painted in my version with the small grapes in 'Demoiselles of Avignon' which announced the beginning of Cubism.




Choi: What do you think are the common features of Picasso and Dali?




Park: Their strong feature of theirs is that they have continued on working until they got old. They were experts in traditional paintings and managed to provide the breakthrough for paintings. I think basic techniques of paintings is still very important regardless of how important new fashion is considered in the field of art nowadays. Picasso painted very well since he was a child and he grew interest in African sculptures as European countries conquered Africa back then. Based on those information I created a piece with a proverb written in between Picasso's portrait and an african sculpture.




Choi: I went to visit Keumgang several years ago. I was impressed with stories that North Korean tour guide told me. They were of the mountain peaks with various interesting plots which were mainly using metaphors turning the mountains into men. I think it is the consequence of the Korean traditional view of the world which sees man and nature as two equal partners. I think how you give plots to objects or animals is similar to that. That is where it differs from how western postmodernist artists use juxtaposition to deconstruct the original meanings of shapes. Could you shortly tell about your idea on art, vision, your aspiration and will as an artist?




Park: Among my favourite artists is Roman Opalka. He continuously and ceaselessly is writing numbers for his works. As he produces each work, he controls the ratio of black and white so that the outcome would become white. He designed his work with intention to linger on it until the day he dies. I once shed tears out of my heart when I heard of an artist who continued on painting until the day he died. There are some artists who kill themselves like Van Gogh-the society led him to it. In fact I have many children to support and feel heavy responsibility for them and it leads to my strong determination to paint with all my energy. I feel I should paint on until the day I die no matter whether they are sold or not. I will have to confront a lot of hardship, but if I continue on, I know that I will have some sort of breakthrough. I heard about a story of somebody visiting Saengkwang Park's studio once. Park could not stretch the paper in his studio because he was working on such a gigantic piece there was not enough room. So he had to roll the paper and unroll it again to paint. His later masterpieces were born from such environment. I think us artists have to learn from him. I think an artist should avoid being too commercial and have to overcome obstacles through the battle with his or her own self.

   
Comment
2007/02/16 Desire to his own Narrative
Desire to his own Narrative

Soojung YI, Curator of Daejeon Museum of Art
November. 2006

When young, we believe the world rotates aroundus. We are no longer the center of the world once we recognize we are all just one small part of the long-lasting history. Though the objective narrative might be just the collective of small narratives or the exaggerated, extended version of one powerful narrative, the small, private narratives tend to get overwhelmed bythe objective, historical narratives.

Young-geun Park has continued his own 'image genealogy' to relate the unrelated things from different time-space zone polishing the paints drawn on canvas with an electric grinder and sander adding the speedy effect with the flowing curving lines, challenges to search for his own narrative. In other words, herelocates himself in the center of the world and tried to write his own narrative with the combination of his daily lives images and other images derived from them.
As we all know well, the Han River and the Yellow River, the Bukhan Mountain and Alps famous for Napoleon, are treated differently in the history class. However, their disparity in the importance resolved in his artistic world; Bukhan Mountain at the back of his house, keeps the run of the Yellow Mountain in China, the Alps in Europe andthe Han River match the Yellow River, the Nile, the origins of world civilizations. Irrespective of the objective (or believed so) fact, Park plays a kind of play to make his own, arbitrary collection of images from different time and space as an omniscient narrator.

In one painting, he combines horse, ship with spaceshipwith a word 'conquer' he chose for the three of them and does President Park Jeonghee, Rembrandt, Princess Yang Kwei Fei, Van Gogh, Rilke and Monet with a word 'flower'. He also painted the historic figures and thespecial flowers for them.
He researched the stories behind them such as Monet raised the water lily in his pond, Rembrandt was bankrupt with the investment to the tulips, and PresidentJeonghee ordered to plant the rose of Sharon all over our country during his tenure. The figures painted in black and white are characterized by their firmness and monumentality as if they were based on the bronze statues rather than the real person. As a result, the colorful, vivid flowers form a dramatic contrast to the figures.

The most distinct feature of this show is as following. He inserted some texts between the images to link one images (the historic figures) with the other images (their own flowers). He interpreted Monet's episode as "Every miller draws water to his own mill."that his pond blocked the stream so the women in his neighboring villages couldn't do their laundry. Another text, "After death, the doctor" shows how he sees the unfortunate lover of rose who diedof blood poisoning by its thorn. Whether the spectators agree or not, it is these texts that clarify his desire to his own narrative.From my point of view his paintings without his kind description are strong enough to inspire the spectators to understand artist's intention with their visual intensity and enormous tension. Park, however, could not help but think over communication through 21 solo exhibitions until now, so that his reflection might have been reflected in these 'texts with the images'.

If I add a few more words to make sure, <I, wife and daughters>, the portrait of his family, along with his words "One nightI saw 70 fingers of my family who fell asleep at the moment I came home." seems to reveal his strong will to the re- initialization; to put himself the origin of the world once again.
Comment
2007/02/16 Understanding the Image Genealogy of Young-geun Pa ...
Understanding the Image Genealogy of Young-geun Park

Jeong-mu Yang
The Korean National University of Arts School of Visual Arts
Department of Art Theory
Novemver. 2005.

For a considerable time, Young-geun Park has employed electric power tools in his paintings instead of using the good old brush. He polished the paints drawn on canvas with an electric grinder or sander, consequently rendering a screen filled with heaps of curves resembling tangled threads. One by one, these curves are all lined up in a positional order of a machine, but the whole picture that they create tangled together is one of an extremely chaotic character. The images that appear within such a chaotic picture are blurry and inflated. At first glance, these mechanical curves seem to dominate the painter's canvas. It may be that the artist himself enjoys such effect as he sometimes uses these repetitive curves to portray fluid images. But if we look beyond the artist's rather original mode of production and his beautiful curves sometimes nearing the pathological, we will eventually glimpse at his central theme, a sense of purpose that has driven the artist for years in silence.

In this exhibition, Young-geun Park is determined as never before to clearly get his message across. During his early years as an artist, Park was enraptured with the unique effects that machines would create on a piece of canvas. In recent years, however, he has been concentrating on creating concepts using common images. In this exhibition, Park purports to first make new observations of objects with a pair of fresh and unfamiliar eyes and recombine them in a surrealistic manner before making a technical representation. All in all, it can be said that Park has set a new challenge for himself, namely the deconstruction and realignment of the genealogy of images.

A detail deserving special attention in this exhibition is the artist's attempt to recreate objects based on his own positive experience while rejecting the recognition of objects force fed by science or discourses of rationality. For example, he presents unpredictable objects such as an apple, a phonograph, an acorn, a train, a helmet and a snail starting from his series of self-portraits. Such choices should be seen as a free and random selection coming from his everyday experiences rather than hiding a grandiose philosophical concept. Another point of interest is that the artist creates a new tension between his collection of images and the real world by juxtaposing the images in an unorthodox manner rather than just indulging in them as they are. The chosen images might appear to be in disarray as they have been selected according to an 'anti-genealogical' attitude. By pairing up together, however, they give birth to a new message (See footnote).

(Footnote) To state the obvious, the 'genealogy' pursued by Park should not be
interpreted according to its traditional meaning of finding a historical origin and
its vertical genealogy. Rather, Park aims to review society's power structure by
shaking its center and our common sense. In this aspect Park's 'genealogy' can
be seen as deeply anti-genealogist or bearing semblance to Michel Foucault's
deconstructionist genealogy.

The creation process of meaning by combining disorganized and distant images can be seen in the 3-layered canvas titled <All that is Fat in the World , All that will vanish in the World, All that is Thin in the World>, which is one of the most important works in this exhibition. In 'the Thin' we can see John the Baptist, a giraffe, ribs, knife and cucumber while 'the Fat' is represented in the form of Venus of Willendorf, stomach, pumpkin and pig. Between the thin and the fat lie the fossils of extinct animals. At first glance, this can be seen as an indirect critique of social pressures exerted to the body by making equivalent images. However, both extremes can also be seen as symbols of masculinity and femininity, which further expands the point of symmetry. Actually, the introduction of John the Baptist and Venus of Willendorf draws very interesting contrasts. These two canvasses inhibit contrasting messages such as the primitive and civilization, wealth and poverty, men and women, scarcity and excessiveness, ancient faith and Christianity. The fossils in between can be interpreted as an 'awakening of death' using an historical axis as well as an implicit warning on extreme confrontations using images.

Images related to sound and time also abound in this exhibition. I suspect this has a lot to do with the artist's working method, of how the earsplitting sound of the grinder and the speedy tension it creates must have influenced his everyday life. However, the fact that speed and time are the very nature of modern images makes his images more appealing. Of course, his way of selecting and placing sound and time are once again very anti-genealogist. Snails, rabbits and turtles suddenly pop out of balloons, vessels and trains, prompting the viewer to imagine their strange origins.

Young-geun Park's images are presented like a table of random sampling numbers, a fruit of his travels through the internet. As a matter of fact, Park has openly admitted that he frequently made use of the internet to collect images. He chose this medium to find out how the images experienced by him were perceived by others and found out to his surprise that one image could evoke thousands of different experiences in people. What stroke him the most was the almost schizophrenic proliferation process of meaning that would entail an image through comments. For example he discovered that an apple could evoke from the simple allusion of the Genesis of Adam and Eve, Newton's law of gravity to the apple carton box used to stash away slush funds. Such changing metaphors are what baffled and turned on the artist.

To conclude, what Young-geun Park is asking us to do is to make new observations with unfamiliar eyes in spite of the flood of images surrounding the modern world. Furthermore, he claims that the ultimate power of images lies in its 'juxtaposition.' Young-geun Park's recent work depicting the moment a new meaning is created when rocking images inside the canvas clash onto one another is a clear revolt from the traditional origins and power hierarchy of images and a fresh attempt to build an equal world of images. To put it simply, he is creating his own 'image genealogy.'
Comment
2007/02/16 Representation of Sense - Park, Young-Geun
Representation of Sense - Park, Young-Geun


Kim, Mina (Art History) May. 2002.

Lines scribbled on the black canvas create a dissolving clock or describe the supper on the dinner table or express the distant view. These three series, titled as <Time>, <Supper>, <Distance travelled>, are what Park, Young-Geun has been working on recently.
Representation is one of the most frequently discussed matters in art history. Discussions of representation are mainly about three factors - a thing, its actual image, and a mental image - and their relationship with one another. Actually in artistic representation to create a mental image is more important than to represent an actual image as it is in reality. That is, it is not the point at issue how closely an artwork imitates an actual image. Rather it is more crucial whether an artwork is able to incite sense, perception, and concept of a thing in a viewer. It is the reason why we are more impressed by a very abstract art work rather than by a photo-like painting.
In terms of representation, Park, Young-Geun's works are very interesting. He describes the actual things, such as clocks, plates on the table, and the landscape. However, his representation is rather to express and arouse sense and concept of things than to imitate actual images of things themselves. The clock in his scribbled <Time> series is not representation of an acual image of a clock but subjective and abstract representation of the abstract concept of time which a clock represents. The scene of the dinner table of <Supper> series invites us to smell foods on the table and feel the atmosphere of the supper. Also <Distance travelled> is not description of the landscape itself but representation of memories of and nostalgia for the places travelled.
It is his working method that enables him to represent abstract sense and concept of things beyond mere description of things themselves. Compared to a typical way of representation that is to put paints on the canvas, he chooses the very opposite way of working. He puts paints on the canvas at first, but then scratches them off. His working method, which can be considered somewhat as a variation of the printmaking method he has been working with for a long time, makes representation possible not by accumulating information but rather by erasing it. That is to say, the artist, far from any intention for absolutely realistic description, seeks to represent the very abstract concept of things or the senses aroused by things through effacing information.
Park, Young-Geun's representation is done by scribbled lines. As if he tries to represent all things, lamenting that everything we exprience in this world - things or events or a certain place or a certain moment - is easily forgotten in our memories and senses.
Comment

2007/02/16 Toward the unification of the binary world
Toward the unification of the binary world

Eun-joo Lee, Curator, KeumSan Gallery
April. 1999

Realities of the visible phenomena in our world are impermanent. The history of the 'representation' in art stemmed from the human being's awareness of inability to capture that changeable existence. In some respects the method of representation originated from the men's eagerness to fix the variable presence of objects on the canvas. The apparent interest in 'Still Life' among other genres in the history of art reflects their desire to control the moving realities by means of studying immovable objects. Cezanne intended to 'represent' objects truly, not simply to imitate them, and created the eternal and at the same time objective reality, which is the incorporative essence of objects, by observing the unstable appearances of objects constantly.

Whereas Cezanne suggested in his paintings the internal cohesion and construction of forms to overcome the variable realities of objects, Young-Geun Park disintegrates forms for the same purpose. The former remained in the experimental field of perceptive 'looking' and focused on the phenomenal realities, while the latter goes beyond the empirical limits and pays attention to the transcendental world of metaphysics. Park believes that the true realities of objects spring from the spiritual quintessence which lies far below the surface of multifactorial changes. As he said himself, his works are nothing more than the expression of spirituality inside materials rather than of external shapes of them.

Young-Geun Park uses 'time' as the vehicle of transcending visible realities. Space holds the quality of substantiality because of the nature of presence implying a place, thus being within the boundary of the material, while time is mobile and unlimited. Park has been producing his works with the effect of deconstructing and destructing of forms, which seem to be long-time-exposed photographs of moving objects, to express the mode of being of things. Swirling lines and demonstrative speed of his works break down the cohesive appearance of things. To disjoint forms Park sometimes paints shapes mixing them together recklessly, or shakes images while reproducing them over the copying machine. These ways of expression distract our attention away from the form of the object, or rather convey the idea that the image is a large moving mass incorporated with the space behind.

Young-Geun Park in his early career went deep into the 'Temple' theme and explored the binary dimensions of the sacred and the secular, the visible and the invisible world. In the series of <On St. Peter :Temple> the earthly temples were turned into the apocalyptic image reminding of Christ's dismantling of the Temple, which in the bible intimates the death of Messiah and the reconstruction of an eternal temple. The visible realities are disorganized by the deconstructive and destructive power in Park's works, which seeks to make an alliance with the invisible and ultimate world. The door often represented as a motif in his paintings symbolizes both the disappearance of an image with the lapse of time and the entrance into the immortal world. After all deconstruction in all images of Park's leads to mean the dissemination of the nature of existence, prompted by the involvement of time with immovable space.

In the recent works Park often deals with the theme of 'Supper.' His concern is moving from the ambiguous space of the temple toward the concrete and ordinary objects such as bread and kettles. The change of his attitude proves that he has been adopting a chaotic image positively, which seems to be the sacred inherent in the secular, and thus he is gradually turning away from the binary dogma dividing the world into two territories, the sacred and the secular. The space created by Park is a neutral one where the metaphysical and the material coexist. Through this expanded view points of divinity Young-Geun Park is progressing toward a unitary view of perception adopting the visible and the invisible world together.

In Park's works, images vanishing into the background look like a mirage of smokes eluding a real space. The traces of lines melting away the sense of reality remind of the spirit leaving a body for the unknown area. This visual effect of deconstructing the concrete forms might assume the nihilistic sentimentality expressing the meaninglessness of the mundane. Park's images, however, are not representative of nihilism. They ring in the immaterial world at the very moment of formlessness, and announce that the transcendental existence lies in the very reality, thus sacred and the secular being adjacent to each other.

<Scream> by Edvard Munch occurred to me all of a sudden when I appreciated the works of Young-Geun Park, where shapes and background are not distinguished from each other being mixed into a mass gyrating in the chaotic space. However, the painting of Munch conveyed the explosive sentiment of despair caused from the sense of isolation in the dichotomous space of the world and I, whereas the works of Park are essentially positive. Park built the space which connects two different dimensions like a bridge and like burning incense at someone's devotions. That space is also a ground for the existential gestures of embracing conflicts and contradictions. After all Park intended to create the united world without any disorder or disruption between the visible and the invisible.
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