ARTIST Criticism
Formative Order and Inner Rhythm as the Beauty of Essence
Formative Order and Inner Rhythm as the Beauty of Essence

Ryu Hyun Ja's painting works are based on classical order and inner rhythm.  The inner rhythm is a uniform phenomenon of visible and invisible world reflected as the wave of life or natural law and the expression of harmonious aesthetic state of the balanced world.  It is  also the exploration of an essential beauty having different dimensions from the formalistic aesthetics of modernism and her innate aesthetic tendency revealed in her works.

She said that “I was attracted to more formative works than traditional or ideological landscape and so did a series of ‘square landscape’” (from the artist‘s note in 2011).  Shapes shown in the world are infinite and various, but birth and death and operation principles of natural organisms follow the circulation process of fixed reason and order.  She wants to imply the principle of life of all invisible things in the universe with square-shaped waves in restrained monochrome.

Her experiences of 'square landscape' were converted into a series of <Song of Yearning for Motherhood> using 'Beoseon' (Korean women's socks) since 2008 and her works have undergone a great change into curved factors and Korean traditional five colors.  Of course, her choice of 'Beoseon' as main material is related to her taste of recollection of old things or her interest in the essence and value of life and their reinterpretation or inquiry of their formative composition rather than the beauty of modern forms.

Formative languages like 'Square Landscape' or 'Song of Yearning for Motherhood> on which Ryu Hyun Ja has concentrated her mind for years seem to be rooted in her natural self-norm and inner order.  As it were, while the traditional painting showed natural subject matters of landscape with Chinese ink on rice paper through the artists' communion with nature, Ryu revealed her senses and stories of our world and culture in moderate forms on firmly organized canvas.

As this exhibition shows, her recent works are a series of <Song of Yearning for Motherhood> using 'Beoseon'.  'Song of Yearning for Motherhood' contains her compassion and yearning for mother who lived a tough and hard life like an unknown weed and her material, 'Beoseon' is the symbol of a mental home as "the material representing the mother of this land who endured a life of long-suffering".  In addition, feature of Korean culture and formative attraction of curves in the shape of Beoseon were enough to be her artistic theme.

Shape of 'Beoseon' which is combined by several types of curves and straight lines is soft and lean, sometimes looks strong and makes different rhythms in every canvas.  The artist discovered many stories and images such as mountain shapes of Korea, group dance of eaves line of Korean tile-roofed houses, mother's breast line, a dazzling display of traditional Korean dance, the soft hip of kids, and the fullness of full-moon and symbolized and implied them with visual forms.

However, even if many symbolic languages are expressed in these simple forms, a visual image is the key and she creates canvas form of her own style through several attempts to highlight such pictorial factors aesthetically.  She opens infinite depth and sense of space of canvas with white background of Chinese white coated repeatedly, fills empty space without afterimage and small surfaces by raising thick paper layers and creates contrast of rough and tough tactile effects.  Moreover she adds  splendid vigor to the canvas by using green, yellow green and orange colors not to use charcoal black color from Korean traditional five colors.  Yellow of the Korean traditional five colors plays a central role in her works because earth or land represented by yellow is considered the basis of all things in the universe and of growth of new life.  

Recently, she adds Diamond Sutra or Prajna-Paramita transcription to the formative structure of 'Beoseon'.  She applies traditional factor of calligraphy to the canvas of fixed geometrical patterns as her own style to be immersed in work with mind study.  A new pattern is created with the phrases of sutra on the color-oriented canvas, but charcoal black of the phrase breaks desolation or creates a visual collision because it is more remarkable than the background of canvas.  So she makes visual mediation of settling the transcription on canvas her task.

Ryu Hyun Ja's canvas of 'Song of Yearning for Motherhood' continues the various variations by giving changes of colors and textures.  Most of her works have been created by applying her own aesthetic norms and rhythms consciously or unconsciously as attitude or way of her own life.  On the other hand, her attempt may be a means that the basis of mind in this confusing world is sought from nature and inner order and the mind of people who dream of breaking away from the routine of daily life can be controlled. 

In fact, Ryu Hyun Ja's works are created by extremely restrained formative languages and are also "the process of filling first to empty" and she intends to make "her agony of emptying" through this exhibition a topic of her work.  It is expected that she pursues 'combination of tradition and modern' from material, concept and visual form, establishes the foundation of life and work firmly and devotes herself to the formative world she pursues based on such a firm foundation.

Cho In Ho, (Art Critic, Chief of Policy Research Team of Gwangju Biennale)