정선휘는 시간의 흐름으로부터 많은 것을 얻는다고 생각한다. 주말에 감 농사를 하는 광주 예술가에게 시간은 그의 예술과 인생에서 필연적으로 중요한 테마가 된다. 정선휘는 자신의 회화에 LED(발광 다이오드) 조명을 사용하여 여러분의 눈 앞에서 전체 하루가 지나가는 느낌을 창출한다. 정선휘의 의도는 그저 실감나는 장면을 만들거나 자신의 작업에 신기술을 통합하는 것이 아니다. 정선휘는 이렇게 말했다. “저는 관람객들이 제 그림을 통해 시간의 흐름을 느끼고, 그리하여 삶의 열정을 깨닫게 되기를 바랍니다.”
정선휘의 작품은 우리가 무언가를 위해 노력하는데 하루하루를 보내고 있다는 것을 상기시킨다. 음식, 인정(acceptance), 사랑, 돈, 성공, 생존과 같은 것들은 우리를 계속 앞으로 나아가게 한다. 우리는 결국 목표를 달성하기 위해 우리의 하루하루를 계획하며, 우리의 시간을 여러 일들로 채운다. 정선휘는 이로 인해 삶을 결코 끝나지 않는 일과로 느끼게 된다는 것을 인정하지만, 우리가 각각의 날들을 다른 관점으로 보도록 요청한다. “시간이 흘러 가면서, 저는 과거에 제가 알지 못했던 새로운 것들을 알게 됩니다. 시간의 힘이 중요한 것은 바로 이 때문입니다”라고 정선휘는 설명한다.
그의 작품은 자연의 풍경에서 시간이 지나가는 것을 보여주면서 이러한 관점을 이용한다. 정선휘의 한 그림에서(20페이지), 어떤 남자가 습지 위에 쭈그리고 앉아 조개를 파고 있다. LED 조명을 통해 이 풍경은 낮에서 밤으로 흘러가는 것을 보여준다. 해질녘에도 남자는 계속 일을 하고 있다. 관람객들은 대부분 이 남자가 생계를 꾸리고 배를 채우기 위해 고된 노동을 견디고 있다는 것을 느낄 수 있다.
정선휘의 방법은 시간과 열정의 증거이다. 먼저, Cheng은 한지에 물감 혹은 잉크로 낮과 밤의 풍경을 그린다. 그 다음 폴리카보네이트(polycarbornate)로 프레임을 만들고, 캔버스에 2개의 종이를 겹친다. 캔버스에는 낮의 풍경만 보일 것이다. 밤의 풍경은 LED를 켰을 때 한지의 얇은 종이를 통해 볼 수 있게 된다. 그 다음 정선휘는 회화의 서사에 따라 LED의 흐름을 조절하여 자신의 회화의 이미지가 움직이는 것처럼 보이게 만든다.
정선휘의 작품에서 반드시 인간이 초점은 아니다. 대부분 자연이 캔버스에서 우위를 차지한다. 우리가 보는 것은 대개 모두 자연이다. “제 삶에서 제가 보는 특정 장면들은 환경에 대한 관심사이며, 생태학적 균형이 있어야 합니다.” 정선휘는 이렇게 말한다. “저는 제 작품에서 이를 표현하고자 합니다.” 밖에서 감나무를 돌보는데 많은 시간을 보내기 때문에, 정선휘는 당연히 자연으로부터 영감을 얻고 자연에 관심을 갖게 된다. 이는 농작물의 실패 혹은 성공을 좌우한다.
정선휘는 한 작품에서 외로운 나무()에 초점을 맞춘다. 이 풍경은 어둡고 나무는 논에서 너무 많은 시간 동안 일한 노인처럼 구부러져 있다. 나무 주변의 환경은 황량하며, 하늘은 불길하다. 그러나 태양이 하늘을 횡단하는 동안, 나무는 움직이지 않고 서있다. 나무는 엄숙하고 장엄하다. 이 풍경은 이 세계에 인간이 살지 않지만 자연이 느릿느릿 계속 성장하여 하늘에 닿는다는 것을 나타내는 것처럼 보인다. 삶은 여러분과 함께 혹은 여러분이 없이도 이어진다.
정선휘의 작품에서 시간의 흐름은 삶에 대한 사람들의 열정뿐만 아니라 인간과 환경의 인내를 보여준다. “저는 누군가의 주름진 얼굴을 보면 할 말이 없다고 생각합니다. 그런 얼굴은 저에게 시간의 철학을 떠올리게 합니다.” 정선휘는 이렇게 말했다. “우리의 삶을 지속하게 해주는 비와 바람과 강한 태양을 수년 동안 견디며 살아남은 사람들은 많은 이야기를 갖고 있고, 이러한 이야기에는 여러분이 책에서 얻을 수 있는 것보다 심오한 철학적 의미가 있습니다.”
다행스럽게도, 이러한 이야기들은 정선휘의 예술을 통해 우리에게 전달된다. 정선휘의 세계에서, 삶은 힘들지만 아름답다. 태양은 떠오르고 다시 진다. 그의 예술은 모든 것들이 결국 끝나지만 우리가 고난을 견뎌야 하며, 우리가 이끄는 삶에 대해 부끄러움 없이 열정을 가져야 한다는 것을 극명하고도 아름답게 상기시킨다.
Portions of daily life captured with urban emotions
(Curator in The Korean Culture & Arts Foundation Gallery)
Subway stairs filled with people, cars on rainy high-ways, people waking in the crosswalk, and the scenary of closed rails which gives the clue that Kwangju has a lot of problems between development and preservation and so on...
Cheng, seon-hooi has worked with sketching energetic scenes of his own territory for years. So, we don't need difficult syntheses of modern philosophy and new theories of modern arts to understand his works. In fact, his works have simple frames and familiar signs and people can get through of it. If we add any rhetorical flourish to them, it seems even useless. He seems unconcerned about the new current of fine arts of late 20th century such as new plastic arts, trans-avant-garde, or new expressionism afterwards as well as 20th's great work of abstractionism which have given a lot of interest to Korean young artists since 1980's.
To him, post-modernism, media art, performance, and concept art which have captured the attention of young artists since 1990's seem even irrelevant. Like this, it is the fact that as a conservative's flag which stands against the current of the times continues to wave in vain, so his art seems meaningless. Nevertheless, what is the reason that his works are displayed in many galleries and art centers famous for modern art, showed with modern artists' products using the newest media, and his name, seon-hooi Cheng becomes well known to everybody as a rising artist lately? As a gourmet who gets sick of greasy and delicate dishes sometimes recovers one's healthy taste through plain foods in the country, are his works captured by the audiences who become fed up with all the newest and fast changable things in modern art and attracted by the old-fashioned 'healthfulness'?
To understand Renaissance and western arts in former times, one should know about the meanings of iconographic signs in their arts and be familiar with historical knowledge and social customs of western culture to some degree. The fine arts, however, has existed as an another aspects of the world which is perfect itself without any explanation since some great artists in Northern Europe brought the subject matter down to the life of common people. Since then, as the discipline of Courbet's Realism got the world of nonexistent fantasy and myth in real out of Art, so the impressionists have walked around not only in the open air but also on the spot for the light to complete what is seen, too. Even if we do not understand that Impressionism is followed by Realism, we can see both of Courbet's Realism and Monet's Impressionism in Cheng, seon-hooi's art. 'Subak-deung', a hot issue of between development and preservation and old rails of Kyungcheon-sun left closed because of their respective opinions between developers and environmentalists for its utility can be understood as something beyond a simple landscape when we see his passion and perseverance to make a lot of on-the-spot surveys and record its seasonal change first. As Courbet wanted to reveal the absurd social framework by showing the blue-color's life and the lower classes' living environment as they were, so Cheng, seon-hooi tries to find something to do both as an artist and a member of a community. As Courbet did not do his work only with social problems, so Cheng, seon-hooi catches common landscapes around his life in the eye of affection and the serene state of mind as well as do his work with a lot of interest in social problems. But, the way of his painting are more closed to Monet's than Courbet's. His sketches about some kinds of the landscape series out of observations on subway stairs according to a time slot and different landscapes from the window of his studio are pictured as they are seen as the moment of daily life is captured by a snapshot and closed in an eternal square frame. Also, the texture on the skin and color spots which uncover the sequence of drawing are so beautiful as to be sensual. From the point of view that various spots with the light and the touch of brush are making the perfect harmony, we can guess that his drawing process should have gone through the time of hardship. Sincerity hard to find in contemporary artists, great talent achieved through abundant production, subject matters from a point of view of social problems, a feast of impressionistic colors which gives pleasure to one's eyes........First, I can present three points above as an excuse of a person who likes Cheng, seon-hooi. But, his advantages don't exist only in these normal and standard rules.
Cheng, seon-hooi presents his works of a street scene from the window of his studio captured according to a time slot and a direction angle. These pictures with the angle like an air view produce the effect that the point of a viewer lift up to the air and make one feel dizzy at once. Futhermore, they emphasize anonymity and absence of communication in modern mass society by choosing the viewpoint from which to watch a man's head first than his face. This viewpoint already used in Subway series presented last year becomes the important reason that Cheng, seon-hooi's art gives plenty of contemporary emotions even though his drawing uses conventional expression. His studio building located in corner gives a chance to observe various scenes through windows with different directions. A market street filled with cars and passersby becomes the stage which shows various living aspects of usual people in the outskirts of local cities. We can see in these pictures entitled <A Daily life>, <A breakaway> that each of merchants, walkers, and cars is moving fast in one frame and doing their duties as a factor in pictures. Even though he has only a few pictures which seems to describe a specific accident such as a towing car trying to pull out the car and a driver making resistance to it, most pictures seem to be an unintentional capture about the moment passing by. In <Waiting people> series, the sketches of waiting people on the bus stop, the light blue street presents joys and sorrows in city life right away like the autumn wind which pierces right through to the bone. Another <Waiting people> describes the scene that old people in the country are waiting for the bus to get back from the traditional market, sitting down on the ground. With old people in Han-bok, Asphalt turning into deep yellow with the red light in the dusk of the evening gives us a little hint that a town-bred artist seems to have ocherous nostalgia. The night scene over the window on 4th floor gives us another story. <10p.m>, drawing high school students' way of home from the school after supplementary lessons late at night reveals the situation of Korean education system named exam hell frankly as the title suggests. Since it is as strange as we can see only in Korea that school girls in white school uniforms are filled with streets in groups at 10p.m. In this exhibition, a series of <10p.m> seems to include an artist's opinion to our society most directly. In pictures entitled <The Life>, and <In one's life>, the point that the upper part of an electric pole goes across obliquely on the right side of the frame comes in sight unusually. A lot of electric lines coiled around the electric pole give rise to abnormal tension, crossing the rest part of the frame in a radial manner. In these pictures, which each of them catches day and night scenes, cars with head lights on between electric lines, a man riding a bicycle , students, a woman pulling a cart, and ladies on motorcycle are passing by. A black rubbish heap under the red mailbox illegally thrown out in day and night and high-tension electric lines across with tough touch in the frame increase anxiety, contrary on the scene of plain daily life of people under the ground. They include the moment of discernment just as they enlighten modern Capitalism system and power structure which watch and control our life exist beyond the high place where we can't realize. In the case of <Sometimes I feel blue>, it can be counted among a few works into which the artist puts his subjective feeling strongly, contrary to other pictures that he draws from a calm point of view, distancing to the scenes from happening mostly on the street. the red light breaking through Pojang-macha is the only light to lighten the frame with head lights of a car and the street where the shape of the building and truck comes out in the dark looks lonely. The concept of Pojang-macha that comes to go current among us as a sign to symbolize common people's romance and the mood at night since when......The artist has an attitude to stay in the common idea rather than to transform or divert this sign. The color of asphalt which turns into red brown by the darkness and the light works as a healing metaphor soothing sickness from the city life or the artist's nostalgia for home like old people in <Waiting people>, producing an impression of yellow soil. Like this, it explains that two colors presenting the street, light blue and red brown not only suggest the time slot of scenes in his picture, but present image about the city engraved in artist's inner mind and subjective emotional state in turn.
As the above mentioned, his pictures contain a lot of effects of looking down from the above as the important characteristics. To those effects, I'll add one more point, not mentioned above, that the ground of his pictures is almost filled with streets. There is no sky in his pictures, therefore it seems like only a land can rule over the world of human-beings. Besides, the land is not the natural one God has made, but the artificial one a man has made, the city one, and the functional one in which a man lives systematically. Like this, his pictures symbolically show the aspect of a true realist who chooses the land of the real, not the sky of the ideal by filling up the land of the basic condition of human-beings' living and the city street on the screen. As a matter of fact, it is his own life to be important to him, not a surreal fantasy nor an abstract idea. He always watch and think everything around his life. The reason that problems in his living area, scenes from his working building, and common scenes which can be found in his daily life always come to fill his pictures seems that he is a self-centered realist who makes much of his direct experiences finally, as it were, distresses himself greatly with the problem of identity.
On the other hand, tension unnecessarily not too close to the scene of his watching, that is, cool distancing is another fact that saves his work from the danger that it can be stereotyped. From his attitude that keeps an eye of observer, as it were, keeps his distance to the real in scenes, we can see that he is a new generation artist who is familiar with contemporary and urban sensitivity, not in accord with Korean traditional
unsophisticated emotions that people put it down for him to step into the other's private life by saying it is 'human nature'.
I think that the relevance to the society, one of his picture's merits is the important part to pursue continuously even if works in this exhibition mainly make a daily life subject matters and there can be found few timely narrative structure. In fact, it is no easy to explore one's own way neither sticking to European contemporary fine arts' brilliant genres nor falling into the danger of mannerism and superficiality at once. Besides it is true that we can hardly expect any more works but putting one's own individuality slightly on a great master's work at the point of time when almost all the experiment has been finished in fine arts like these days. Maybe Cheng, seon-hooi should've already realized these limitations with which modern artists have been faced cleverly. Not to be involved in the pallidness of modern art which has concentrated on new innovation for newness itself without the audience, the self-contemptuous masturbation of self-mocking and intentional copies and parodies, and the meaninglessness of the wasteful trend of fashion since his early times, it would be rather courage to be required to him. I surely expect the result of his courage which already showed the capability in its beginning and the process, even if it is not that easy, will return to useful fruition all during the rest work of his drawing.
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