A SENSE FOR UNVISUAL MONOCHROME

Form 84-19, 1984, acrylic on canvas ©Kim Tae-Ho

Courtesy of the Mizuma Gallery, Singapore

Article by Roxana Florina Popa

 

Is it really self-understood what monochrome is? Does it have to do in any way with one colour or even with the visual? Can it be deep? Can it produce a life of its own?

Kim Tae-Ho, a leading artist of the Korean monochrome art, has no mono-definition and invites you to transition to more than a perspective.

 

From 11 November to 3 December 2017, Mizuma Gallery in Singapore presents “Transitions”, a solo exhibition of Kim Tae-Ho who, for over 40 years, strongly allied his practice with the legacy of his contemporary Dansaekhwa painters.

 

Progressing from illusionary forms and shutters expressing resistance, miscommunication and isolation of contemporary people in the ‘70s, to space structures filled with internal rhythm and their own life from late ‘90s onward, Kim Tae-Ho’s method is seen as

a coexistence of revealing and concealing” by the art critic Kim Bok-young.

Internal Rhythm2017-84, 2017, acrylic on canvas ©Kim Tae Ho

Courtesy of the Mizuma Gallery, Singapore

Interview with the Korean painter Kim Tae Ho

Roxana Florina Popa: What is Dansaekhwa?

Kim Tae Ho: The art market pursues the trend rather than the artistic purpose. If monochrome is understood as a trend, it is not healthy to see the image of each monochromatic work. Dansaekhwa is interpreted as monochrome again. To be precise, monochrome is not a proper expression. Artistic aspects should be acknowledged and respected in all artists’ personality and work.

Differently from the Western monochrome focused on colour, the Korean monochrome is classified as Korean original art style. In the 60s, there would have been Western trends such as minimalism and monochrome, but the monochromaticity of Korea seems to have been born without having any relation to these movements.

Art has been filled with the spirituality of the Korean nature, ethics, with the Confucian ways of thinking, and we have not created a unique monochromatisation out of them. In my opinion, any kind of cultural history can be classified in the future and it is rare for people who actually act and create in their times to name it themselves.

I want you to feel the depth of monochrome and have a chance to fully appreciate it.

I am very pleased to have a good opportunity to promote monochromatics in foreign countries.

____

The monochromaticity of Korea has escaped from the past. While previously there has been no opportunity for it to be known, now the world has found the monochromaticity of such a unique world of its own.

_________

The Exhibition “Transitions” in Singapore

Courtesy of the Mizuma Gallery

Internal Rhythm20060021, 2006, acrylic on canvas ©Kim Tae Ho

RFP: How did the Dansaekhwa art movement emerge?

KTH: Artists pursue Dansaekhwa constantly to express the agony of life, to do the examination of the existential meaning, to reveal the answers to their questions. The process is tedious, laborious and time consuming.

The works of monochromatic masters were so classified and regarded as artifacts, not for artificial grouping or monochromatic work. Critics really think that the monochromaticity of Korea is attractive for many countries in the world because of its artistry.

In the ´70s, Japan first drew attention to monochromatic painting and in 1975, the Tokyo Gallery, one of the top galleries in Japan, and the art critic Yusuke Nakahara, organised the exhibition “Five Artists in Korea, Five White Paintings”. In the opening address, Yusuke Nakahara mentioned it is not an anti-colourism as an expression of interest in colour; it is rather the interest in their paintings than in the colour. I was interested in the «what».

The «what» can be called the mind and it can be seen as the pursuit of performance or the ultimate pursuit. Consequently, the monochromators of Korea who lead monochromatisation for the past 40 years developed their unique way of performing, original techniques and style.

As for myself, I have been expressing my spirit and the misunderstandings and isolation of the people of the modern age.

In the meantime, the monochromaticity of Korea has escaped from the past. While previously there has been no opportunity for it to be known, now the world has found the monochromaticity of such a unique world of its own.

Form 90-905, 1990, mixed media on canvas ©Kim Tae Ho

Courtesy of the Mizuma Gallery, Singapore

____

Monochromatising is a process of eliminating oneself, by repeating an act infinitely, repeating the act of wanting to be meaningless, in the a state of gratitude, freeing oneself of the paintings, clearing the self that is stained and stained over again in various worlds.

_________

RFP: Critics say your artistic technique is a new method of using spatial structures. How have you discovered this technique, how was it inspired to you?

KTH: There are three basic parts for achieving that kind of monochrome:

First, have no purpose of action.

Second, the repetition of the act, which is the process of demolition that empties oneself, as a monk does.

Third, the physical and the spiritual: the thick layer of paint formed by the repetition of the act approaches the tactile material (not the colour), showing the spirit that it is different from the visual-dependant manner of Western monochrome.

These three things are deeply related to each other so that they can be seen as unlikely to divide in three. Works are born when these three are united naturally.

Monochromatising is a process of eliminating oneself, by repeating an act infinitely, repeating the act of wanting to be meaningless, in the a state of gratitude, freeing oneself of the paintings, clearing the self which stained and stained over again in various worlds.

In other words, monochromaticity is a world based on the Oriental spirit regarded as a tool of reception.

I, myself, called the monochromiser, have been working for 40 years to pursue my own world and reveal my spirit. I have never tried to fit me into the framework of the monochromaticity.

Internal Rhythm20060010, 2006, acrylic on canvas ©Kim Tae Ho

Courtesy of the Mizuma Gallery, Singapore

RFP: Your latest work is focused on space structure and the life within it.

How does life come to be born in these structures?

How have you found the way from form to space structure, from illusionary forms to life producing spaces, from resistance and isolation to life creation?

KTH: I express myself by borrowing a horizontal and vertical structure. This is known as the most comfortable structure in everyday life and architecture. Repetitive actions accumulate a layer of paint and objects without purpose. Repeating the process of naturally and inevitably creating a space of my own, the space starts containing the image itself. In other words, a large universe of planets appears on a large screen of small grids, but there is also a small universe within a small grid.

Various colour layers and shapes are gathered in the small grids, just as many as the human beings. The big screen, including all of them, comes to the screen unceasingly. It can be said that it is like a big universe in which each person´s story is hidden.

____

The inherent rhythm is the same as the inner ring that only I can express.

_________

RFP: What for are the personal internal rhythms within us?

What do they reveal when expressed on an outside medium?

KTH: In a painting, even if the artist does not intend to do so, the internal rhythm of the artist is revealed. Some say it is the artist´s intention and sometimes it is called the mental.

Even if they give the same space in the same material and construct, in the same theme, these elements produce different works.

The inherent rhythm is the same as the inner ring that only I can express. It forms the foundation of the work by repeating the rhythm of the great vibrations, as well as the small rhythm that occurs several times.

It is amplitude that naturally rotates at different speeds, such as the law of the universe repeating idling and rotation, not colliding or destroying, but complementing each other.

So, the internal rhythm does not come out of the work and it does not make a big impression, but has a resonance that encompasses the whole work.

Special Thanks go to the artist and to Ms Marsha Tan and Ms Cai Yun Teo from Mizuma Gallery in Singapore

Kim Tae-Ho belongs to the first generation of the Korean monochrome movement called Dansaekwha. Since 1987, he is a Professor at the Department of Painting at the University of Hongik. He was awarded various prizes: the 2nd Art Prize at the Buil Art Competition, Busan, Korea (2003), the Journalists Art Prize in Korea (1984),  the Grand Prize at the Gonggan Print-Making Competition (1982).  Kim Tae-Ho’s solo exhibitions include Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea (1985 and 1991), Kamakura Gallery (1986) and Tokyo Gallery (2002) in Tokyo, Japan, Sung Kok Museum, Seoul, Korea (2007), and most recently Operating Space Structure in the Busan Museum of Art, Korea (2015). He has participated extensively in group exhibitions in China, Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Switzerland, Costa Rica and the USA.

His works are exhibited in the collection of the British Museum (London, UK), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Seoul, South Korea), the Busan Municipal Museum of Art (Busan, South Korea) and the Shimonoseki Museum (Shimonoseki, Japan).

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