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A Fancy Landscape Delineated Along the Contour Lines of Korean Costumes

- A contribution to JUNG Kangja's art works

May, 1999 Park Youngtaek | Art critic, Professor at Kyunggi University

1         The vigor of life of a man may be provided by an exterior source. The exterior sources referred to here are such as religion, thoughts, belief or faith, and ideology. Probably, arts also may function the similar role of supporting man with a magnificant vibration. Yes, the writer would agree to these notions. A man who works on painting may have a kind of faith in his own life through his artwork, so much gains vitality of life, plus such a joy of realization of wishes. These sentiments would be derived from an artistic activity, or through an image and materialism of image. To manage one's life as an artist and incessantly confirming one's own life along one's devotion in artwork may be deeply grounded in a mythology for the art and artists. An artist has began to adapt the art as a goal of his life have his own soul be relieved by the art ever since an existence of artist could have getting out from the position to produce man's casual articles for everyday life, leaving a position of a skilled technician behind himself. The art being created by a gifted individual, eventually become the modern art.


The very desire to rule one's life and dream through arts has closely approached to the arts of compensation and healing of life. Thus, arts as well as the art at last got into behind the veil of life to become a ream of human science to soothe the pains of injury, free the people from the oppressive factors upon their social life, and embodied and realized the very dream or temptation, etc. Thus, now, a greater emphasis is placed on arts that relieve a life than the function of religion. Consequently, the vision of life unsatisfied has been reflected to the canvas, which in turn has become a painting, but was nothing but insignificant and lonely shadow. In that shadow, there lies deeply in the artist's personal view of mythology with implicit of the artist's agony for the unreality against his attractive life. Therefore, all paintings were spread on with the undenying factors, such as unsatisfied desires, the injury of life being not compensated, unrealizing dreams and loneliness. There are innumerable number of holes, much more remarkable when the more a painting is splendid and the more surrealistically delineated.


2         The art works of Jung Kang Ja in the past has given us an intensive and brilliant impression, and it is noticeable from her paintings that there appeared on the pictorial surface much more about herself than painting objects. The life of the artist who draws pictures is more remarkably represented than the source of 'painting' itself. I also read her book "The world looks beautiful when one has become crazy about one's work." Returned from travel to every corner of the world she wrote her travel experience with illustration pictures with crude primary colors in a manner of primitivism, which I have read it, too. These writings and pictures give us similar associated images of those of senior artist Chun Kyungja and of Prida Carlo. The awesome looking with slanders of the art are representing a remarkable feature of the reciprocations for her injure life and lost dream. Through an artwork with treatment of paint and acrylic she has produced her paintings by taking a good length of time each day, and these paintings actually looked her own witness and record of life along the artwork.


An artist is above all doing painting incessantly everyday and is the only work he engages in and is exhausting himself the creation of the art pieces. Therefore, they would like to be recognized by others, particularly the viewers of their paintings, of about their justness of artwork and reciprocation for their laborious activity. To produce a great deal of painting may comfort the artists such a view. To do something worth, consciously satisfying himself as an artist are event usually the very fact of self-confirmation of compensation for his life self supported.


It is presumed that Jung's artworks are derived from her feeling of alienation apart from her experience and everyday life. In addition, the root of her such a sentiment of alienation is very deeply rooted. In the behind of her splendid paintings, there are hidden facts of a distorted itinerary of her travel of life and the very feeling of accomplishment in her life in the alienation and the that poverty she had to experience in the society and the art circle where the Korean men enjoys the priority to women. The first denoting of a happening work and the experimental and challenging aesthetic consciousness; later, returning to painting, her artwork constantly filled with the elements of primitiveness and romanticism and the characteristics of fancy and fantasy are the totalities being so painfully entangled with a certain extent of her resistance against the art circle and Korean society as well as her exploration for existence and the distorted portraits of the reality. And that is in fact a painting closely related to her partiality.


3         Jung's recent works are comparatively much more sublimated and simplified than those in the past, looked crude and far from refined look as before. The series of recent works, 'The Korean costumes' have placed the objects in the space of materialism, that the conspicuously approaching common sentiment, and on that layer, superimposed by the symbolic and implicating skirt, personal figure and landscapes.


The main colors are earth yellow and thick blue, and an effect, which is similar to a relief effect, as if it was getting out from the basic color tone of monotone dividing it, and delineate. And then the lines abruptly became gaps and injuries, and then giving an activation of vigor to the space, when there appeared a delicate image. The selected color tone, which is featured by a notice of the mystic inner value, the most Korean style color(yellow earth), and all of them are favorite objective colors of the artist. They are impressed to the viewers dry, desolate and vastness as well. The value of coloring aspect and the pictorial plane upon which color tone is emphasized have eventually produced a particular colored space and pictorial surface.


Her artistic treatment of getting out from the divided pictorial plane are seemed as it objects of ruptured earth or injury, gaining a visual effects apart from the plane structure is an interesting artwork by representing and suggesting the painting as if it were a cubic structure through the illusion. In addition, the objects appeared in the space are ingeniously arranged: because the skirt becomes a mountain while the wrinkle of skirt becomes an eyebrow, and in the same time the Korean costume depicted becomes a landscape. This belongs to a methodology intimately adopted by the surrealists. The natural grasp of creation of shapes of the objects gives a similar associated image of Joan Miro. The alluded symbols and the symbols and the sensible composition of color have extended an abstract world, which is the one coexisted by rich fancy and humorous, symbolic space. The artworks of Jung Kang Ja, such as these, may be directly influenced by her traveling experiences of visit to many strange places and the back lands of the world, and by the illusions derived and formed by the result of such an overseas travel. And furthermore, her paintings seemed to be a result of visualization of an intensive dream of the artist as well as life, and the meaning of life as a woman.


Also, it has been noticed from her works that the shapes of the objects have been dissolved by an organic structure while it is persistently based on the normal shapes of objects. With a sole treatment by the delineated lines which is conceptualized her imagination and fantasy, and thus the paintings are completed by the traces of superimposed lines and repeated painting. Jung's delineated lines themselves have an enough contours that remind us of an intensive attraction. The lines which produced wrinkles in the space forming an associated image are suggestive and so much comprehensive. The line she has represented in her paintings is giving us particular images of the aesthetic features of Korean woman through Korean costumes and socks or Korean women costumes (in which Korean beauty and consciousness exist). According to the artist, "Korean women costume is a flag of Korean women having been ruled and oppressed by the thoughts of predominance of man over woman for thousands of years of Korean history as well as an act of satisfaction of grudge, which flies freely for the freedom, and becoming a sash of the skirt tying us the grudge of women formed in the course of the time through which the women endured silently under the situation of unjust treatment and oppression and the discriminative circumstances, the sash afloat over the cloud in the sky in a form of a bird. I would frequently dream, and think of fancy objects, too. Consequently, there in my paintings are full of the grudges of women and their particular life." (Quote from the artist's note).


This is an utterance advocating feminism. However, it would become a vague result of effort in search for a definite impression of a feminist from her paintings, rather through the paintings we may find much stronger impressions of rumination of life and the traces of fancies of the artist herself. Finding the skirt and Korean costume the artist described varied forms of landscapes by moderate application of the costumes. The landscape represented in her paintings is of inner ones. A Korean costume is well denotable as clothes of wind, and it thoroughly displays to us the mind and consciousness, and so far an aesthetic sense of Korea people. Impressive as the Korean costumes are, as it embraces and accepts everything, while it conceals the physical properties of a woman, the lines tenderly representing smoothness and rich composure, the intensive primary colors and the lines similar to that of a bird wing have eloquently representing the very aesthetics of desire of flying, which is eventually an ardent longing for a Taoist world. Furthermore, a Korean woman costume deeply pervades the total sentiment of a Korean woman life. Therefore, the recent works of Jun by delineation of a fancy and queer looking landscapes by a delicate technique of association with the image and the lines and wrinkles of Korean costumes, have secretly suggesting us of the stabilized foundation of paintings produced through the self-consciousness of the artist.

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