Jumping Into and Separating Himself from Realities

Oh Byung-Ouk

Kwon Yeo-Hyun has a colorrful background. he was awarded the Grand Prix at the Contest Sponsored by the Creative Art Association in 1984 when he was a senior. He was also given the Dong-Ah Art Prize at the Joongang Art Contest in 1990. He was awarded th Suknam Prize by critics in 1991 and the Elite Artist Prize at the Hankuk Daily in 1995. He has been absorbed in making art his hobby, especially in his every day life. He has held solo show in 1988 and participated in some 100 group show.

His inherent subject is man. He takes selfmeditation as a subject of his work since college days, when he approached it very existentiaally. His basic artistic attitude is that the object [he] is cast out and there is no exit. He has Drawn his own psychological portaits from various angles against a background of his surroundings. then the artist jhandled such subject as [individuals and society]. For Kwon, Drawing picture meant expressing the relations between society and about individuals, rather than personal formative exploration. his work os dynamic and meditative places where persons, contemporary and past events congregate.

 The exhibition showing his ambition and potential was his 10th solo exhibition, which was held on the 1st and floors of the Art Center from October 5, 1994 through October 15, which exhibited oil paintings (2.5m X 3.3m). Along with his one-dimensional works, large-scale mummies of his own making and stone mills funnels are placed in 40m distance.

His show demonstrates his serious exploraton for subjects. One of his workes proving such a search is the one which is composed of the picture of a fully-equipped soldier, that of the person equipped with pigment and paintbrushes next to the military equipment and installation of actual tools. He seems to express that just as a soldier defends the nation, so an artist plays an important role as an active particioant. He first handles selfmeditaion, and then culture and history. He deals with religion, love, conflict, sex, violence, torment, massacre, politics and plots. These subjects are arranged into six categories such as history, society, religion, culture and sex science.

 The richeness on his cavas comes from his personal faith. He said that he saw poverty in his work drawn with a smooth technique. He tried to employ every technique he knows on one cavans.

He sprays, smears, drops and erodes to indicate that something will happen on his cavans. Then, he draws, copies and sympolizes images belonging to one of his subjects. On the last touch, he outlines the funnel he regards as a filter, or a human head the filtering process happens in lines or dotted lines. Though expecting confusion as it seems to be a laboratory of material science, he has his own way to eliminate the incongruity of techniques and give overrall unity to his work. He sometimes express a large part of the canvas in one color and phases, of often smears red, the most attracting color, on the canvas, and sometimes combines trivial things into one object. This uniformity makes us feels absorption rather than congusion resulting from his large-scale work.


It os difficult to induce modern men living in the flood of artficial images into the still canvas and engage in discussion. Stillness and solitude are not the words to characterize modern civilization. Everything emerges at a brilliant speed, changes and disappears. What ig fammiliar is not what is possessef but what is acquainted by being seen frequently. The boundaries between principles, irregularities and violations, between truth, opinion, truth and false, between beauty and ugliness, are vague. How does the artist rebveal his own faith in this world?

 Take, for example, the world-famous Paik Nam-Jun. What is the artistic basis of the master? Is it modern technology or avant grade? He has two factors in that his work was up-to-date at the time of its birth and it destroyed the concept of conventional art. He would not be widely recognized if he did not have both factors. Anyway his work combines completely with the phenomenon of modern civilization. His images, sometimes gaudily changing and being sometimes turned into documentaries, are congusing and fragmental, so that viewers have difficulty understanding his intention. On the other hand, some pieces have such evident messages that they seem to be documentaries. His works show the artist's pain in maintaining some distance between each attitude. If an artifact approaches and satisfies the truth, it abandons being art. An artifact keeps confusing disarranged images with vague meanings not to be a TV drama.

Kang Ik-Jung is the artist who satifies this standard. His images do not come form a picture tube, but his artistic process, through which fragments of daily lives are transformed into art, is similar to Paik Nam Jun's. What is seen is symbolized, and verbalized on the canvas. This is the originality he adopted to record his own life. Listing images meanninglessly can be the characteristic on modern civilization. Can this be the destination of art?

 Art is neither a right/wrong question nor a like/dislike one. It is a matter of choice. How can I settle down when we are exposed to the flood of image on T.V.. We can not remember all of them; some are stored through the filtering process and some are forgotten. On the process, an individual's life and thoughts are different when other are formed. Kwon Heo-Hyun's work belongs to this category. He neither gives out numerous images nor tries to express what is seen. He fragments pictures into six group, expressing his message with filters. He compares his work to the picture taken with a needle hole camera.

[The camera with a small hole in the center of one side of a hexahedron accepts light reflected from an object to creater images on the other side of the box. When photographic paper is placed on the other side, we see images piled up. Compared with general cameras which capture objects instantly, the needle hole camera expresses emotion. If the pictures by futurists are full of light, sound and movements, my work has a pile of history, society, religion, culture, sex and science. It is a collection of events linked by slowly accumlating like images of the needle hole camera.] Kwon Yeo-Hyun can achieve time and distance enough for him to think and filter. This is one of the good points in his work. He employs this approach to catch rapidly changing events, various thoughts and emotions with serenity, Though it appears colorful and noisy, his work succeeds in achieving balance with classical formative principles due to proper combination with jumping into and artistic separation from the realities.

 Kwon Yeo-Hyun is evaluated as a postmodernist artist. His work is the mixture of a variety of stories and objects, reminiscent of a popular style of western fine art. However, the writer would rather throw it out to the world than confine it to an old fashioned word. Art always goes somewhere. Its name is transient. Anyway, he has been expressing what is explored in the society while living in our times and he will develop it further.

(Translated by Lee Sunny)

← Back