Examining into a plural selfness

Song Mee-Sook (History of Art/Art Critic)

The first time I saw Kwon  Yeo-Hyun was at his second solo  exhibition in Dongsoong Art Center. The broad shoulders,  comparing with his stature  and body. His hairs  almost like a monk, his fale but lovely face like the bloodless face of Kabuki and his  opaque look which seems to be  shy and vacant  give us queer and  mysterious atmosphere. With  the attachment to Narcissism  about his  works, his impression  like this  was in heart  for a

while. After  that,  I have  ever  had a  feeling  that Kwon,  Yeo-Hyun  had a  feminine atmosphere like his face at where I was at him and I wondered if it came out naturally or it was  planned disguise.  On  the other  hand, I  thought  the autobiographical  factor to dominate his works was fatal. And then, let me quotate his autobiographical description.

  I watch  myself  with two  method.  The one  is  to watch  myself  through a mirror surrounding myself, and the other is that I disguise myself as a small worm, enter into my body and go to my history back. What is the the first powerful memory to suspend X pole if my private time is Y pole? (a short moment happened in school, the play to kick a  can, rubber shoes,  a  certain female  student,  rubber string,   overflowing of a   river in my hometown . . . . and  medicine smell of hospital.) It is  a consecutive by heap of sections. And the   factors to   correspond to   X pole   to come   under space.   (The dialect  of Kyungsang-Do, a ground of Seoul National University, a church at Habcheon  in the south Kyungsang-Do, the atelier  at Abgujeong-Dong,  an apartment  at Tookseom and  a calm working place.)

  These are only my space to hit on and give  a probability to have to select me so. The second badook plate is a  combination of the mirror surroungding  me. For instance, many teachers who have educated me, books,  social phenomena, employees, parents' big  fingers and the voice  to lay stress  on the  myth of Dangun.  They are the  small part  of such examples.

  In his first solo exhibition  in 1988, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun attracted  the attention of painting world by connecting his persuasive  expression with the meaningful contents,  for example, his painting method and technique  with almost perfection, balanced  composition, tenacious attachment to canvas, colors and material with sense, examplary description,  unsafe mentality from a critical situation of self-existence and desire for resistance and escape.

 The end of  the 1980's when  Kwon, Yeo-Hyun  entered into painting  world was  when returning to form and expression was came to  the front and new coordinate and direction were required heartly wlth the relaxation of tension and confliction while bisected structure of our  painting world,  that is,  abstract  to figuration,  form to  contents, installation to anti-installation and modernism  to pop art  lost their  foundations. In the  course of that, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun who  made his  unique 'style'  with the  technique, refered  before, and speculative mental contents by  aptly  borrowing  both Angelm  Kiper  a rider of neo-expressionism in Germany, and Francis Bacon born in Ireland proposed an outlet to the people who were  wondering about the  relation between the lamentation of 'pop art' and their new interest to the recognition of  reality. Now Kwon, Yeo-Hyun  takes hold a firm position in painting world and has taken part  in several group exhibitions with about ten times of solo exhibition for last seven years since his first solo exhibition.

  From his solo exhibition in 1988 to the present, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun has a coherent interest to analysis  of reality,  especially self-recognition  he has   looked through realistic  world rather than the true nature of  painting itself or formal aesthetics.  By decorating the form to present the mental factors of the inside (as an unsafe form within a critical situation  of existential reality, as a gloomy shadow, as the power  of reistance and the shape of desire for escape or as  the image of both  sexes with a  face of himself and  a body of  female dancer) with the brilliant and balanced contrast of complementary color, his works in early days expressed a  psychedelic atmosphere with  rich color  and material like  dreams. Not only this atmosphere shows the  tragic forms, writhing and  thrown into the closed  space, pictorially and unrealistically like a clown but  also the geometrical space composition with perspective, he divides strictly, erupts a mysterious dynamism  rather than order and gives liveliness to canvas. So  we can feel  as if this  artist evokes the madness  hidden in the inside of estranged mentality.

 Also in Kwon, Yeo-Hyun's solo exhibition after two years, his quest for the stagnation of selfness was continued. Both his narcissism about  self-introspection in confused space  like a labyrinth  and his obstinacy to circulating history  of his memories were  almost paranoic. The forms in the agony of memories drafted as the sects of which chains were broken and only remained as pastiche with no solution or problem. Coming to 1992, his works had some changes and I think these changes were affected by Kwon, Yeo-Hyun's experience of America. Instead of the depth of perspective  and the division  of color field in  his previous days,  his canvas was much closer  to the  plane of  the second dimension  as well  as different things on canvas, tkat is, piece of cloth, strings, ropes  and so on,  substituting for brushing  lines were crossed and the complicated designs and signals were filled with it. As  Foucault had returned to history and opened a superhistoric field by borrowing Nietzsche's (genealogy of history),  Kwon,  Yeo-Hyun  filled   his canvas   with  the  imaginary  paintings   which trenscended time  and  space (Nietzsche  and  Chuangtzu, Bach  and  himself, Freud  and Lao-tzu, and Mahler and Hyewon's figure of beautiful woman).

 It was to open his coherent interest to make out outer reality through his foreign experience with more macroscopic cultural view than the position of self-centeredness.

 In this solo  exhibition, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun  is going  to take out  some exhibits from  the works produced for one year since 1993, but he plans to show his previous works simultaneously by using two grand exhibition  space of Art Center. Perhaps  it seems that he regards this exhibition as a  diverging point to his whole  works ever produced. Kwon, Yeo-Hyun is going to broaden the field of reality and describe love/sex, religion, political economy, and nature as his titles in his later works, especially this exhibition, contrary to that his early interest which he watched himself through a mirror called the world or went against the incidents and figures related to his past days made parody with pastiche on the basis of the recognition of self-disruption.

 But his autobiographical contents still appears as his main interest and both another series work (torso) and installation works related to that are the highlight of this exhibition.

  In the series of torso works made of two or four canvases, hands are connected with the body which is wearing or naked in the outside of torso as its five viscera and six entrails are drawn in the  circumference of hexagon. In  another torso, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun puts his back torso into the center and in the center, in other words, in the heart, locate Taegeuk, that is, the cosmic dual forces in the symbol of eternity in which two snakes make circle shape biting each other's tail.

 And the hexagonal loop  joins the ovals  of primary color painted with digit in the circumference of snake's circle. With torso as  a center, the  shapes that are located clockwisely in the radial manner are not only the historic, cultural, social psychological, and physical connecting loops of their own but also the fragmental emblems. For  example in a torso, there locate a portrait dressed in female  attire and a naked muscular portrait in the lower part of torso. And there are a bndegroom and a bride dressed in  traditional garment in the apper part of it.

 Four pieces of series work which has developed from torso is connected with the torso in contents. As I refered before,  these paintings, using a form  of comic sections, compose a work, but the background and subject matter of  each canvas are so different that we can seperate them. The background of each canvas is composed by single color field  or simple landscape composition in order to show the visibility of image, that is, clear message.

 And one,  two,  or three  and  four figures  or  forms at  most  locate in  the  front of background. These forms are dealt with  simple plane like its background.  Jesus statue of Byzantine, the pillars of temple and  a chief of religious service stand  for religion and the petal of Georgia O'Kiffe style, a sexual behaviour and homosexuality are the direct symbol of love and sex. And cruel violence and on-the-spot description of holocaust are a voucher of social evil.

 We can say these scenes  have a critical message  to civilization about the  estrangement and suppression by  power and knowledge.  But Kwon, Yeo-Hyun's  frame of  recognition experience still stays at the category of reality and he turns his attention to outer landscape if his previous background  had been  a mixed and closed inner space or psychological situational space. On the other hand, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun takes serious view of realistic description in his recent works more than his previous works because the contents he tries to draw is not a fragment of confused image but the message about civilization to rule a realistic world or  himself and he intends to  deliver it directly. The grand  scale of his works, about 360cm x 260cm, means the visual effect of message.

 Therefore his works of 1993, for instance,  millstones, taking shape  of funnel, and the attempt of conventionalization are a connecting loop between his early attention and that of these days more than the attention to the simple form as an instrument for filtrating. Explaining it precisely, we can't exclude a probability that Kwon, Yeo-Hyun tries to filtrate his interest to self-paramonia and show a funnel as an instrument of recognition to come up to the universal  reality. I think he  has included this funnel series work at this exhibition because of that.

 Above all, a highlight of this exhibition is just an installation work tied in length of 40m. We can call this work a kind of an extension of performance. At first, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun puts on fireman's cloth, and after that, he has a manekin to be dressed in that cloth and installs the fire-fighting equipments in the prepared acryl box. Here, the fireman stands for a society.

 Wig, minkcoat, and hat are arranged by the same way in his female dressing but the wig is wared on the face of manekin. Substitution of sex, that is, sex  conversion is one of his  paranoic themes. In the case of a pastor who stands for religion, installation work is done with the same way. At the last stage of this work, Kwon, Yeo-Hyun arranges three dressed manekins in an acryl box filled wlth ornaments and the equipments, his front torso and a model of which backside is the transparent policote with the background that takes some photos of naked and dressed bust one by one. And he exhibits  his hands, feet, and the face made of the same material in a line. In other words, this installation work is  his direct statement to his destructive or plural selfness, and futhermore it is an  extension of his autobiographical explanation about reality.


← Back