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Lorand Hegyi <The Pictorial Metaphors of Lee DongYoub>

Critique 평론 2008.04.29 19:08
The Pictorial Metaphors of Lee DongYoub

Fields Revealing the Power of Pictures


Lorand Hegyi

 

Translation by Alexander Zigo (Wien) 






Visualizing a place or locus that is witnessing events of fundamental importance, a crucial transformation, a shift of primary significance, a change from a given status to another non-existing status involves adaptation or conversion processes that either center on creation or perception. This act of visualizing seems to be a central tenet in the art of Lee Dongyoub. In his pure, clear, transparent, unadulterated, and highly coherent painting, the notion of place of locus is invested with complex and aesthetically decisive meaning. The latter forms the basis of the entire painterly articulation of how art acts as a system of perception, or how it participates both empathically and creatively in developmental processes.

It might be more appropriate to talk about fields, zones, or terrains rather than a place or locus to capture the sensitive, enigmatic aura better, with greater connotative poignancy, with a higher degree of complexity, as well as more poetically and freely. A place or locus may, in fact, sound too geographic, concrete, and practical, too measurable and restricted, too single-dimensional and therefore not metaphorical enough. The term field, in contrast, suggests a vast and open area whose limits cannot be clearly delineated or defined. Zone also implies a particular and specific entity that only lends itself to perception and recognition within this somewhat mystical zone that differentiates itself from other realms. A zone is a special terrain having peculiar features in which strange things take place (events that could not unfold elsewhere), and in which concrete patterns and constellations determine the prevailing situation.

In his pictures, Lee Dongyoub attempts to reveal the secret of these fields, with a view to exploring, comprehending, and conveying their peculiarity. By doing so, he visualizes specific -- and possibly mysterious -- transformations and reinterpretations. The fields he shows have structures that suggest a broad and comprehensive context, as well as links between the concrete visual formations of these fields and absent, vague, and larger structures. Whatever viewers are able to perceive visually implies something that cannot be immediately and directly perceived, something intelligible, something broader. It reminds us of the existence of a taller and more expansive structure having greater powers that helps us find explanations for immediately comprehensible, visually perceptible, concrete formations.

The artist's fields suggest a firm anchoring of visually perceived phenomena in another, merely implied, not directly discernible, higher, and larger structure. The somewhat mystical zone that differentiates itself from other realms. A zone is a special terrain having peculiar features in which strange things take place (events that could not unfold elsewhere), and in which concrete patterns and constellations determine the prevailing situation.

In his pictures, Lee Dongyoub attemps to reveal the secret of these fields, with a view to exploring, comprehending, and conveying their peculiarity. By doing so, he visualizes specific -- and possibly mysterious -- transformations and reinterpretations. The fields he shows that structures that suggest a broad and comprehensive context, as well as links between the concrete visual formations of these fields and absent, vague, and larger structures. Whatever viewers are able to perceive visually implies something broader. It reminds us of the existence of a taller and more expansive structure having greater powers that helps us find explanations for immediately comprehensible, visually perceptible, concrete formations.

The artist's fields suggest a firm anchoring of visually perceived phenomena in another, merely implied, not directly discernible, higher, and larger structure. The latter can only reveal itself in these radically peculiar fields, and only through their poetic efficacy and suggestive strength. Their specific competence, their poetic fuctionality, their imaginary clout, and their capacity of suggestive projection and absorption thus become evident, acting as mediators and connections between spheres and systems. In his pictures, Lee Dongyoub presents the compelling power of visual systems that demonstrates the functionality, poetic efficacy, and enigmatic suggestiveness of specific fields. He also addresses questions that pertain to the assessment of fundamental changes within the perception of visual structures. This evaluation refers to the issue of visually designing visualization and of peotically conveying existing structures. In this case, the picture is discerned as an efficient and suggestive revelation of existing structures of depth, or as a participatory method, with the picture acting as a creative and innovative instrument to produce new constellations and structures, thereby animating and designing new, open, and flexible situations.

This second option relies on the enigmatic power of the picture to create a broader intellectual community that exists outside its confines and unfolds through human participation and radical imagination. In this process, the painting acts as a creative catalyst; the empathic restructuring of visual elements opens up new perspectives and establishes innovative connections between various experiences and emotions. Such new connections enrich the visual structure of the picture by metaphorical messages and micro-communal narratives. These are specified in the peculiarity of the  given pictorial system in different embodiments and appearances.

From the radical peculiarity of the given pictorial system emerge concrete intellectual and emotional contributions. They are activated by these new links so as to be reappraised and used in the pictorial system. There is no general, abstractly existing pictorial validity-all that we see is the peculiarity of the given pictorial system embedded in micro-communal contexts. This anchoring is corroborated by the incontrovertible and close connections between the radical concreteness of visual design and various intellectual areas.

Paradoxically, it is this informal, natural, real, as well as radical concreteness of peculiarity that allows the artist to keep on creating new connections between specific experiences, emotions, and orientations. Highly personal issues such as experiencing time and space or nature, an individual's emotional makeup, his or her internalization of learned and appropriated, culturally perceived values, micro-communal systems of signs, symbols, and signals, linguistic structures and conventions are all integrated in the intellectual community emerging out of the painterly design process.

In the pictures of Lee Dongyoub -- most of them featuring shades of white or light gray -- we see vertical or horizontal lines that don't run from one margin to the other across the pictorial surface; rather, they appear in a specific field of the picture, only to vanish and lose their entire visual presencce outside this field. These lines are no contours that hint at forms, bodies, or masses, and neither are they clear geometric formations having objectively explicable qualities. Rather, they are baffling dividing lines which, at first glance, appear almost inscrutable and seem to have no raison d'être. They are dividing lines between unknown and flexible zones inexplicably different from each other. Their difference can be accounted for only within the concreteness of peculiarity of this pictorial system, i.e. only visuality.

This immanent, concrete, and visual legitimacy achieved by internal and specific relations and constellations of systems, this relationality and referentiality prevailing within the-reduced-pictorial system invest the artist's lines with a certain aura of autonomy, freedom, self-determination, and independence. It is important to note, however, that they could not exist outside the overarching system: they derive their significance only from the processes of perception and interpretation taking place in the viewers. They can either read these dividing lines as metaphorical reflection, allegorical referentiality, and a romantic and pantheistic interpretation of nature, or as a functional attempt at defining different zones and fields.

The first interpretation involves connotations gleaned from landscape painting, from atmospheric and symbolic depictions in which landscapes are presented in their empathic beauty that is fraught with narratives. Experiencing space and nature, personal memories, and micro-communal conventions are all included. This complex and open aura of connotations originates exclusively from the pure and transparent pictorial structure, arising from its specific, concrete, and unique peculiarity. Lines are thus perceived as subdivisions. The pictorial field is discerned as an allegorical quasi-landscape in which puzzling as well as serious, silent, almost imperceptible events occur. These low-key pictorial events, these nuances of visual design, these virtually invisible differences between shades of white all create an imaginary wealth that triggers a metaphorical broadening of connotative references, enveloping various mental areas in this newly emerging, open, flexible, and flowing situation.

Lee Dongyoub often addresses the minute changes of color produced by the lighting conditions prevailing in different seasons. He frequently talks about spatial sensation as well as dividing lines that mysteriously and inexplicably separate certain zones from each other. External influences, the impact of landscapes, light, colors, movements, emotions, moods, memories, associations, and experiences-all of these factors are reactivated and internalized differently in the concrete peculiarity of the given picture. Light-colored, transparent, and elusive formations invariably focus on the poetic efficacy of suggestions of something that doesn't exist, something imaginary, something that can't be immediately comprehended visually. These suggestions of absent, elusive, and larger structures are signalized as allegories or as personal and imaginary projections. They are like signposts helping viewers find their way. They accompany them, providing unexpected, enigmatic, as well as personally useable revelations that establish creative, imaginative, and associative links between different mental areas. This type of accompaniment, this emotional commitment lends a romantic character to the oeuvre of Lee Dongyoub.

The dividing lines that crop up here and there in the artist's broad, white, deliberately undefined pictorial space (at the most, it is structured by finely nuanced shades of white) engender unavoidable situations, i.e. objective visual facts that viewers are compelled to refer to. Recognizing and deciding are two vital processes here, and both of them promote an active participation in perception. Lee Dongyoub's pictures give rise to new and open situations in which viewers are encouraged to observe even the most minute details of nuances of visual design within the radical concreteness of the picture's peculiarity. They are invited to follow inherent changes and conversions in order to grasp the incredibly fine, multi-faceted, and differentiated visual structure as a rich, flexible flowing, unlimited, open, and sensitive metaphor.

In this process of internalization elements of visual design are permanently reassessed, reinterpreted, and projected onto different levels. This is done to include personal, particular, specific, and unique experiences directly in broad, expansive, and open situations and to enhance the picture's powers. What is more, the distinctly ephemeral status, this inexorably flowing, open, and unrestricted entity of the metaphorical is moved into the center of pictorial design. What I would like to emphasize at this point is the importance of pictorial design as a complex process; specific results, specific and peculiar constellations depend on the given methodology, as well as on concrete processes of assessment and decision-making.

The commitment to an individually performed, real and unique decision-making process that invariably refers to specific experiences and that always unfolds in the peculiar concreteness of the given pictorial system involves the appraisal of the viewers' active participation in perception and the creation of new and powerful connections that conjure up new, real, complex, and open situations. Lee Dongyoub's silent, meditative, and participatory paintings are reduce to a minimum of nuances, and yet they also display very finely differentiated color shades. Being close and intimate companions of viewers, their emotional engagement is somewhat romantic. His works supply us with unforgettable, poignant, and rich metaphors of poetic potentiality. The latter greatly enhances and expands the picture's power within the peculiar concreteness of the pictorial system so as to establish vital links between forms of existence and mental areas. The artist's silence, tranquility, energy, and commitment manifest themselves in the simplicity and elegance of his pictures that do without unnecessary, additive, or arbitrary elements. They just exist, resembling white snow-covered  fields that beckon us to wander across them and to disappear amidst the snowfall, merging with the white enveloping us.






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