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#10_Summer House 112x162cm 2009.jpg

 
An image is projected onto a canvas instead of a screen. This image is nothing but a banal scene without any site-specificity or sense of timely particularity. Artist Song Eunyoung executes sketches on canvas, taking a banal image as the ‘original’. Seemingly imitating the original faithfully, things in her ‘painting-without-a-subject’ appear slightly distorted, shattered in the logic of perspective. In the Invading series, in which a subject is rarely found, Song focuses on the defamiliarization of pictorial conventions and authority depending on an aesthetics of order and arrangement, and the nature of perspective, by employing a classical way of painting, confounding the normal process of perception.

Song’s paintings are rendered delicately, but do not focus on hyper-realistic renditions, nor the revealing of spectacle dynamism. The artist demonstrates the contradictions in conventional principles of visual perception in an act of seeing, and the visual medium of painting. This contradiction is based on her concern for pictorial representation examining the fundaments of painting.

 

Song audaciously showcases this concern through her 2004 solo show, Following/Interference (Catching up with/Intruding into). She delved into drawing to capture present time, imitating her own silhouettes reflected on a mirror. However, this experiment to narrow the gap between herself viewing, and the image viewed, turned out to be an ambiguity of time. It may be interpreted she relied on the tactile sense, rather than the visual sense, when she drew her own images and sketches for the Invading series. But what remains interesting is her anti-optical attitude, there in the process of solving her questions toward representation, another motivation for opening up her own uncertain pictorial horizon.

 

 

#7 Orange Cushion oil on linen  110x158cm  2009.jpg

#7 Orange Cushion oil on linen 110x158cm 2009.jpg

Contradiction

Part of a common living room, without traces of life in its furniture, is found in #7-Orange Cushion. As the original of this image is a cinematic scene, this painting depends on the principle of perspective, translated by a camera lens, not by her eye. Upon close examination, a white window frame concealed by a sofa intrudes into the sofa, as if to cut into it, making a distinction between the inside and outside, so its pictorial logic is shattered. Although Song’s painting seems to keep up with the law of perspective, this principle of representation appears deconstructed partly. The conventional perspective of the West refers to a pictorially interpreted way of seeing that arranges things on a canvas, depending on their importance. This method abridges or overstates a thing’s real volume and size according to its distance from the viewer. Within this order, things become objects referencing a metaphysical meaning, not for themselves. This artist considers these things that lose the sense of their existence by this pictorial order have no ‘weight of being’.  

Song’s idea appears in the Invading series, whose perspective and composition is incongruous, disturbing any system of meaning. In other words, Song presents a paradoxical scene, in which a painterly balance is shattered by a heterogeneous element, that is, a collapsed perspective ‘invading’ orderly space, and her work’s subject moving to ‘objects’.

 

French art historian Daniel Arasse analyzed the anamorphic skull in The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger, regarding the collapse of then dominating orderly arrangement within it. This collapse is decisive in generating painterly meaning in The Ambassadors. Realistic objects disappear like a vacant desire, while the skull is a dramatic tool showing truth in our life and death. The Ambassadors represents aesthetics of allegory, and that painterly meaning is elsewhere, through a confrontation of two objects and the intervention of the anamorphic skull on an institutionalized canvas. Pursuing standardized, typical painting, while intentionally involving distorted images, Song poses questions about a conventional, habitual practice.

#14_a Black Cat oil on line 53x45.5cm 2010.jpg

#14_ a Black Cat oil on line 53x45.5cm 2010.jpg

#10_Summer House 112x162cm 2009.jpg

#10_Summer House 112x162cm 2009.jpg

Treachery of Objects

Song’s painting appropriates a frame of realistic representation, and things appearing in her Invading series are thus recognizable. The images in her painting, such as a bed, bedclothes, wardrobe, table, chair, sofa, and window frame, are all perceptible and decipherable. But viewers cannot help but wonder what the artist intends to say through these images, and may discover a narrative in unconscious connection with her work. The artist pays attention to pictorial images and diverse objects, not narrative. The subject matter of her painting is ‘invading’ objects, and her work is pictorial-collage.

 

Viewers who tend to read a painting as a symbol or a language might be embarrassed by her typically salon painting-like composition and palette. Reading a painting through language is not simple, but it is obvious viewers may come close to Song’s painting through pictorial puzzle-like approach rather than through reading, and through the details rather than the whole. Merleau-Ponty argued Cézanne’s paintings cannot be contemplated; viewers have to stroll through them. Painting begins from perception of the world and one’s self within it. Song’s questions recall aesthetic experiments of the modernist era, and ways of seeing deconstructed. British painter Julian Bell explains in his work What Is Painting? through reference to Jean-Francois Lyotard that painters after Cézanne tried to reveal what they make viewers view, not what they view. He suggests art at that time explored such questions as “What is reality?” and, “How can an artist make a viewer see reality through their painting?” rather than addressing the confrontation between abstraction and figuration, two-dimensional and three-dimensional representations.

 

#9_Beds, oil on line, 97x130cm 2010.jpg

#9_Beds, oil on line, 97x130cm 2010.jpg

 

The Gaze

What does seeing mean? The act of viewing is not identical with pictorial representation. The world we believe to exist and the represented pictorial world is not the same. Unlike reality, most of life is dominated by illusion. Our visions, dreams, and desires belong to an invisible world close to illusion, not reality. Our sense of sight is governed by our surroundings, rather than simply being a biological sense. In a classical sense, painting is an outgrowth of such an institutionalized sense.

 

Artists of the 20th century experimented with a will to deviate from standardized logic. As a result, art underwent extreme upheaval, including an assertion that it would come to an end. An attempt to associate a perceptual act with art was also thought of as banal and even superfluous. Is that really true? For Jorge Luis Borges, poetic language rediscovers disappeared original meaning, not generate new meaning. In contemporary painting, asking the act of ‘seeing’ and the limitation of ‘representing’ is like exploring the spring of images.

 

Song Eunyoung has worked persistently with images. This persistence is there in her experiments with photography and painting. Song’s work even poses an existential question regarding movement and stillness. Her artistic questions remain in her solo show to be held in tree years. Unlike previous attempts to audaciously clarify extreme visual contradictions in a mixture of photography and painting, through the deconstruction of perspective and dissemination of theme, this time, Song returns to painting, and explores the autonomy of the act of seeing. 

 

#12_The Red Jacket oil on linen 80x100cm 2009.jpg

#12_The Red Jacket oil on linen 80x100cm 2009.jpg

#13_Pomegranates oil on linen 112x194cm 2010.jpg

#13_Pomegranates oil on linen 112x194cm 2010.jpg

#8 Riverside oil on linen 100x100cm 2009.jpg

#8 Riverside oil on linen 100x100cm 2009.jpg

 

By Jung Hyun, Art Critic

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Posted by EYEBALL_Media Arts Webzine


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