PARK KYUNG-A: In the middle of the forest
I could not hide my excitement as Park Kyung-A’s unique style, which has not been clearly revealed so far, was in full swing in the inner dynamism and freedom of sensible colors felt when facing her recently produced series Walk for her solo exhibition at Wooson Gallery. What has mesmerized Park recently is about the pictorial space (area) that exists between nature and abstraction. “Nature” is a symbolic medium projected to metaphorically emphasize a virtual domain where reality and perception intersect and are activated in Park’s paintings. In her early days, her semi-abstract paintings mainly prevailed which expressed shadows of dark forests and large trees, or natural spaces created by light and shadow. In particular, “forest” has been an important motif to understand the world of her oeuvre, and it encompasses metaphorical and symbolic meanings as an area of fate and testbed holding the secrets of nature that humans must penetrate to find the meaning of life in legends and myths.
In her series of works depicting the shape of a distant forest seen through a window, two ambiguous spaces separated from the inside and the outside with a boundary of the window – a sensory organ symbolizing vision and insight – imply a tragic distance between an individual’s life and realistic destiny. The curtains drawn in the window represent a subjective prejudice of seeing the world, or the unstable boundary between consciousness and subconsciousness of knowledge and fantasy. They also implicitly express the unexpected moment of a temporary and prophetic life through poetic allegories when the wind blows through the open window. Park’s landscape in her painting – being nostalgic like a moment of memory found in lost time - is a visualization of her personal perception and view to a life which is inevitably linked with reality as part of the truth beyond its superficial meaning through a virtual space of landscape. Her works of this period, which illuminate nature as an uncontrolled and constantly changing being, can be seen as interpreting nature from a similar perspective to that of artists of the 19th century Romanticism who also understood landscape as self-portrait.
Over the past few years, Park’s painting has been devoid of specificity of objects, starting to build a new form of abstract vocabulary in which the impromptu movement of lines and vibrant colors are harmonized. The disappearance of objectivity on canvas is because what she is trying to express through the object is not the object itself, but the world of perception metaphorically implied. Thus, it is natural for the object to become blurred and ambiguous as the range of perception is emphasized. Park’s painting where the object’s specificity has disappeared forms a complex space where emotional intensity and intellectual determination are emphasized as forms and colors rooted in gestures fluidly intersect on canvas.
On the other hand, paradoxically, Park’s abstract painting space, where the specificity of the image disappeared manifests the literary meaning of “forest” which is open toward the unknown world more specifically recognized than in her early works. It is because Park’s painting enables an expanded interpretation of the vision for nature into a dynamic, material, spiritual and intellectual virtual space, although it is no longer a way to imitate the landscape or nature, paving a new way into a literary context. In that sense, her Walk series should be understood as “walking in the forest,” that is, living a life of responding to the actual moment in life and floating in it, rather than trying to approach it with any form or purpose. Moreover, the path of a forest is sought after through the perception of a subject walking in the forest, not by the interpretation of the forest per se.
Born in Daegu in 1974, Park Kyung-A majored in painting at Yeungnam University, moved to Germany in 1998 and completed the graduate school program at the Münster Kunst Academy. She stayed in Germany until 2007, concentrating on producing artworks. Nearly a decade spent in Germany was a lonely and difficult period for Park, but it was also a precious time of soul searching in her life by revealing her feelings facing reality to find out “who she is” and “what makes the way she is” as an artist. For the past 25 years, Park’s interests have always been directed at her emotions and perceptions. Caspar David Friedrich, a leading proponent of German Romanticism, said, “The painter should paint not only what he has in front of him, but also what he sees inside himself.” Likewise, Park’s art had her identity as an artist as the most important yardstick of art and interest as a subject exerting emotions and imagination, rather than superficial artistic portrayal.
No one can tell whether the bird is singing or crying but depending on our realistic conditions and the emotional psychological state of the moment, the bird might cry or sing, and we empathize with nature and get comfort from it. Park’s pictorial approach through the consistent totality of nature provides a deep vision of a quiet cosmic space where individuals can be self-aware and empathize through their own emotional sensitivity and life experiences in an era where abstract universalism has lost credibility. This exhibition focuses on finding the identity of her hidden aesthetic concept that is implicitly embedded and ultimately maintained amid the flow of her transformative work, rather than systematically reviewing Park’s work over the past 20 years.