Kwon, Yeo-Hyun 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.