English | Korean

In Between

Kim, Hyunju (Independent Curator)

In between night and day on the sun setting field,
The sky spreads over opening along the sky,
In between the gazings from a distant afar,
The wind blows softly the leaves of reeds,
In between the steering-by to here and to there,
Along the betweens brushing by as if it would open

(from the lyrics In Between by Mingii Kim)

An Gyungsu shows a lot, and talks a lot; pictures taken while coming and going, past exhibition booklets, paintings at work, completed works, how the artist had lived, the development of works that had changed, on painting, and about the future which is planning on. So I observed and also listened a lot, but then suddenly, at a certain moment, the artist stops, unexpectedly. He clams up, making me feeling left alone after believing that we were narrowing down every direction together, heading towards a target. It is a game which the friend who was in it together had suddenly gone away. The artist becomes firm saying that he believes that there is no need to say too much. It is contradictory, however, as it repeats, I assume, in a way, I could understand at which point he is saying that he wishes to stop. So I trace along the gaps in between where he showed, talked and stopped. Although I write between him and I, I think about the narrowing-down betweens of you and I, the artist and the curator, or the writer writing an unidentifiable text, the day and night he is painting, and the landscape and I, or the landscape within an open landscape and the landscape.

Now, I am no longer curious on what he is painting. Houses, walls, rocks and grass are common in our surroundings. Painting common things in an uncommon way can also be a painting. It’s a house. The walls seem different. The rocks are unfamiliar. It’s been long since I had looked at grass. If paintings are articulations, talking about it is also an articulation. Moreover, if paintings are articulations, the artist’s point of view and perspective will impliedly or overtly reveal themselves between each word. When I first saw An’s works, there was a time when I used to talk about the objects and was curious on how they had been depicted. Looking at what he has painted, I still do sweep along the flown-down brush strokes and the traces of paints put on by being shaken off with my eyes. I even stayed to watch how he used the brushes, sprayer, and the masking tapes. I observed how something from a solid world reveals and hides itself during the process of piling up layers, erasing them, and then piling up again. I was awed by the landscape which the layers of films, which could be called the beauty of painting, had formed. This is also the reason why I admire his paintings. I admire the objects he paints and his method of painting.

However, I questioned and thought about the pause he takes when he stops after his points of view and perspective articulated, but then I gradually decided to give in to the conversation which begins from the pause and the conversation. Along with the pause, his life style simultaneously shows me his other attitude, and talks. When the showing and talking stop, we then converse; him as an artist, and I as a viewer. He becomes resolute as an artist, and I spread open the fragments and connect them with my own way of misapprehension. Whilst scraping along seeming as if it would open up, I saw his works of 2012, Daytime Tree and Night Tree, and I have come to believe that the contrast of the exposure of day and the concealment of night has provided for today. I first saw these two works from the thick portfolio that had been handed to me for this exhibition. In the two works, which appeared divided on one page, a tree wearing day and night was drawn twice. It was after seeing these two works that I caught a glance of the works of this exhibition.

Among the works on the exhibition, the delicate moment of Bright Night and Glow of Factory, is, to me, an enfoldment of the tree of the day and night. Moreover, I sense him twisting the enfoldment because he is not satisfied with it. The gray twilight: It is a state which time had melted into space, and a state which time had melted in space. The state meets with fluorescent lights or the artificial lights brightening the surrounding, and collides. One cannot know the passing of time, whether it will gradually become brighter or darker, however, the red black and bluish atmosphere created by the air and light of the day confronted with the light temperature of the artificial lights appeared in the works as an instant moment of day. There is a world where it expresses two moments of day, lucid with day and night; one object split into two moments. Or, existentially, there is a world that presents the objectification of a sole object by integrating broken down sections. I assume that he had been all the while fed up with both of these two worlds and that perhaps, he had not even believed it, ever. I therefore assume that he may be replacing his way of life, and his method and attitude of work with the scenes where he had artificial lightings exposed or inserted, opening the gap between them.

When I first saw the Glow of Factory, the first words that blurted out of my mouth were, it’s romantic, and after I had said it, I had come to reflect on the romanticism I had in mind for this piece of work. I could detect visual tracks of Casper David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Ruenge, but going beyond the limits of the romanticism as an art historical stream. I had also sensed symptoms of romanticism such as neurosis, dissatisfaction for collateralness, anxiety, loss, solitude, etc, tangled up in paintings. I will not leave him tied up to romanticism. Healthy sense of reality, developmental future, subjective pathos, or escape to utopia seem irrelevant to An’s path. I believe that, like his optimism or pessimism, rather than chasing after flashy and grandiose, yet empty landmarks, he would probably choose to walk around his studio, not going very far. Immigrants’ House, Power Tower, and A Hole at a Gas Station are on the way to his studio. These paintings which people live in and prove the fact that people live there are neither pretty landscapes without people nor social critical landscapes. The incomprehensibleness, anxiety, and loss penetrate at any time, yet I am not confident as to what great words I could affix to the artist’s landscapes which he himself lives in, complains and doubts about, and is dissatisfied with his own self, innocently believing in them over and over again.

To my question asking whether he had in mind a certain painting he was going to use as the main image for this exhibition, he pointed out Blind Spot. Usually, he would have said, there’s no such thing, but for some reason, he answered briskly. The work which looks like a bed frame from the perceptual psychological aspect, a steel frame, which seems to be a security fence, is tied to a tape or a vinyl rope. He names the blind landmark blind spot and stamped and scattered paint onto the painting as if blowing away rusty iron powder. He said with an emphatic tone, this once, only, that there is nothing else to say but ‘paintings is an old man’s art’, quoted by David Hockney. Although I wasn’t satisfied with him acting like an elderly man, I knew he was speaking in earnest. Blind spot is not a place where is must be hidden, but an area that is not visible from a certain location and an area outside the territory of interest. Therefore, it is a spot where, if you change the location or become interested in it, it becomes visible, enabling the seal to be removed. In the Blind Spot, I search for the painting method of which he will use again and again. Not with eternity or the instant moments but with today’s effort and interest of the artist, I could catch a glimpse of his attitude on the world which he will discover.

A book which I had on hand when I visited his studio was Il sacramento del linguaggio: Archeologia del giuramento. In this book, there was a phrase that said ‘promise... to guarantee its honesty and its realization is what matters.’ Starting from the blank space beneath it, I had written down the conversations I had with him. Because he did not talk much, they were mainly my fragment of thoughts. There, I scribbled a part I had remembered from a dialogue of writers: If you complete a question, it’s a novel. Couldn’t it be also applied to paintings? If you complete a question, isn’t that painting?

* Mentioned by Han Gang from a dialogue of Lee Hye-Kyung, Han Kang, and Cha Mi-Ryeong. Desparately, Towards Roots and Destiny, Literary Community.

Spring, 2013