[IRONY & IDEALISM] Yoon Jongsuk, Calligraphic Brushstrokes and a Mind Landscape Transformed from Korean Traditional Landscapes

Gyeonggi Museum of Modern art


This catalogue is published in conjunction with 2017-2018 Korea–Germany Contemporary Art Exchange Exhibition Irony & Idealism. It documents all exhibitions and artworks at 3 venues in Korea and Germany-Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, KF Gallery and Kunsthalle Münster-from September 2017 until September 2018.

Park Youngtaek Professor at Kyonggi University, Art Critic



Artist & Artwork - Yoon Jongsuk



Yoon Jongsuk’s paintings are rich with innocent, childlike gestures. They consist of unfinished drawings, random lines effortlessly produced using graffiti-style brushstrokes, and strenuously applied paint. In them, mountains, trees, grass, birds, and fragments of natural landscapes are scattered: they evoke traditional East Asian landscapes. Also, however, at a glance, the bold and dramatic brushwork of Abstract Expressionism seems to wildly and aggressively whip by. Even in her works completed with lines on paper, the elements of drawing are strongly appealing. In her paintings, we catch a glimpse of figures emerging out of a ground filled with soft pastel tones; however, we can also see the multiple layers of brushstrokes that erased and covered over these figures. Reminiscent of East Asian calligraphy, the lines seem to dance on the canvas in accordance with painterly flavors. Lines created by brushstrokes are expanded into a drawing and coloring that eventually constructs the lines and surfaces of the canvas. This scene seems to dissolve back into brushstrokes after deconstructing a landscape, but at the same time it seems to be creating different emotions and appearances through sensuous management of the brush. On one hand, a painting means an encounter between a brush and a surface. On the other, it is an expression of an artist’s thoughts and spirit directed through a brush that becomes the embodiment of the artist. As such, a painting illustrates a feast of unique brushstrokes made by an artist—that is, a unique incarnation of an individual artist. Contemporary painting means a revelation of an artist’s aesthetic consciousness, which is made possible by tracing the originality embedded in an artist’s brushstrokes. The contact point between a brush and a surface—and further, a brushstroke that connects a canvas and an activity—indicates the minimal unit of an artist’s consciousness, although such a brushstroke itself represents a multitude of meanings and contents. A brushstroke is, in a sense, the physical trace of an artist or an entity while still representing a component of our real world. Otherwise, it visualizes something that does not exist in reality. Like this, a brushstroke is one of the most important data points or units that incarnate an artist’s sensibilities and conceptions. In addition, a brushstroke transfers the entirety of what an artist thinks and sees while demonstrating the myriad activities, times, and events that took place during the creation of the work. Therefore, we need to consider a brushstroke to be a discrete independent element that demonstrates multifarious meanings, not simply a subordinate method to represent something else. A painting is seen, in a sense, through a brushstroke.




To me, Yoon’s brushstrokes appear attractive and joyful—her f loating strokes are elastic and sensuous, and most of all, filled with a painterly sensibility. Revealing her extensive self-training, her brushworks reflect traces of her physicality and perceptions. In Yoon’s paintings, the abstract collides with the figurative; lines, surfaces, grounds, and figures all coexist. All of the natural elements— mountain ridges and mountain points, tile-roofed houses that remind us of a Buddhist temple or pavilion, vertically rising trees, birds or butterflies, and insects—emerge between the materials and the brushstrokes. Yoon’s paintings provide viewers with something they have seen or felt from nature. That is to say, her paintings maintain an open state in which viewers are able to seek their own reminiscences and memories, expanding their range of appreciation. In this context, her paintings—as an open state—are connected to the appreciation and experience of traditional landscapes. Such reminiscences and memories are neither within nor without the paintings. Viewers are simply asked to search for their own experiences and memories derived from nature using clues embedded in the paintings. Here, her paintings function as a vehicle. Traditional East Asian landscapes served as a vehicle as well.




Yoon’s paintings are initiated by observing and simply gazing at natural objects and projecting the emotions of a self onto them—that is, assuming an attitude of considering nature and the self as one. This manner of thinking is influenced by East Asian philosophy in which the fundamental attitude is the consideration of natural phenomena as a base for conceptualizing human life and reality. Here, natural phenomena provide us with a fundamental structure for thought. Yoon observes the finitudes and vicissitudes of human life via various elements from nature—either that she has been seen through the media or directly experienced—including the moments of climax and extinction and the repetitions of natural cycles. In a sense, these are concerned to energy. Yoon appears to desire to capture an aesthetic of energy embedded in a landscape or a motif from the external world. In her paintings, free and vigorous brushstrokes and abstracted and partially figurative scenes represent certain sensuous phenomena extracted from nature while capturing a particular sort of vitality and energy. This is not merely an artistic mimesis or a pale imitation of nature: it is a given moment transferred from the artist’s body, senses, and memories, a figure recorded only within a painting, and a landscape conveyed by the artist’s physicality and awareness.




In Yoon’s paintings, everything f loats. The Western perspective visualizes a space through a static eye. Such paintings structure a self and the world into an immobile and clearly bordered relationship. However, in East Asian paintings, a static perspective does not exist—everything is in a state of flux. This is because people believed that the state of nature included not only a static physical truth, but an immaterial aspect as well. In fact, the world is not immutable. It is in a state of motion rather than at a standstill, in creation rather than existence, and in vibration rather than fixation— this is what East Asian people have conceptualized onto the space of the world. From the continuously changing field (the object), is the entity (the subject) separated and conceived—this is the essence of an East Asian painting. Everything is real that exists in a continuously changing process. Therefore, in East Asian paintings, the important thing was not the representation, but the experience of physical phenomena, a way of seeing that requires multiple and motile viewpoints. By shifting the viewpoints into the center of landscapes, a portable perspective becomes possible. A landscape painting is not intended to produce a visual impression in an objective way—it is designed to create scenery in an artist’s mind by intervening in his or her psychological state. Otherwise, it should capture and fix vanishing moments and preserve them as memories. Like this, an artist in the East Asian tradition sets out to represent something beyond what was seen to help viewers to observe or sense or feel things unseen by evoking emotions in their minds. It demonstrates a desire for drawing the unseen figures in a landscape by activating potential into the actual. The purpose of painting was, in the end, the evocation of feelings rather than the production of a representation. Maintaining this lineage, Yoon employs East Asian landscapes for her Mind Landscape. Here, I wonder— does her work pursue such a purpose?



#Ansan #Gyeonggi Museum of Modern art #Yoon Jongsuk #Germany Contemporary Art #KF Gallery #Kunsthalle Münster

@Park Youngtaek

    • IRONY & IDEALISM

      Publisher/ Sul Wonki

      Chief Editor/ Choi Eunju

      First Edition/ July 31. 2018

      Published by/ Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art

    • List of Artists/ Ahn Jisan, Bae Young-whan, Björn Dahlem, Gimhongsok, Hwayeon Nam, Michael van Ofen, Manfred Pernice, Yoon Jongsuk

  • ggc

    Writer/ GyeongGi Cultural Foundation

    About/ Everything about the GyeongGi arts and culture, GGCF

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