Plate No. 7
Mixed Media on Korean Paper
Attraction of Man with Art
Prasing on My beloved senior Chang-Bae
By Kim, Byung-Jong, artist
Considering the fact that Chang-Bae Hwang is intimate with his juniors enough to overlook each other's faults, it becomes him better to be called "Brother(Friend)" than to be called "Professor" or "Teacher". He has an image of Brother Chang-Bae in a loose casual wear rather than a serious professor in a formal suit. Judging from his broad-minded and unpretentious personality which makes him raise his hands and laugh aloud on the street towards his acquaintances, he will remain to be Brother Chang-Bae even in his sixties.
In my understanding, his open-minded magnanimous personality makes us feel comfortable with him. He dose not like to enquire of others about every detail of matters, and he prefers listening to others to insisting on his own opinion. From this understanding easy-going character we can always find youngster's attractiveness in him. In the '80's Korean Art was bleakly divided into conflicting lines such as social art and pure art. Considering this disintegrated atmosphere in the '80's, it must be Brother Chang-Bae's merit that he has the magnanimity to get along with those taking the opposite line of art.
Even though he received big prizes in the recognized public contests from his early period and thereby received much recognition in the established line of art, he could be familiar with those with the opposite understanding of the art. If we look at Brother Chang-Bae`s picture from the view point of the noble Confucius painting of the calligraphic school, we can find it somewhat vulgar. His painting gives the enjoyment of "something to see" which makes its appreciator follow the painter's imaginative journey rather than containing the simple structure and the neat empty space which suggest its appreciator " something to see", like a resistant in painting he insistently walked into the prohibited taboo area and soon occupied the "authorized area" as an "anti" in the '80's.
Normally it is the case that those prize winning artists in recognized pubic contests lose the experimental spirit. However, Brother Chang-Bae tried to escape gradually from tradition and orthodoxy as if it is a kind of a ceremonial performance of indulgence for his prize reception. Thus he rejects the oldster's art but adopts the youngster's art. He mixes in a disorderly way many factors such as childishness, weird air, mischievousness, triviality, and chance to create his own style of art. But his most anti-traditional style was soon accepted by the young generation as the style of the Oriental painting in the '80's.
At first I expect him to develop a unique modern Confucius painting style of the calligraphic school mainly based on the use of the empty space on canvas and the line drawing of the technique of structuring by brush stroking. In this way he could have manifested his talent of shaping in the realm of "spirit." Since he took intensive training on the effect of knife and letterizing in the field of seal engraving, I thought he would cultivate a new realm of modern Oriental painting by pursuing the handling ink painting in the classicist's position. Then suddenly he began to reverse his painting style. He indulged in the "fun of upside down painting."
In my opinion he seems to get a confidence and power in the world of Chosun Folkpainting which was understood as humble and vulgar by the Confucius intellectuals in the Chosun period. Anyhow, he became an anarchist who does not concede to any genealogy, teacher, and art theory. Like an intellectual terrorist he boldly went into adopting the academically progibited taboo method of thick coloring and over coloring. Instead of blooming the realm of "spirit", he appeals to his appreciators with the trace of "action" and passion. From time to time his works are even somewhat violent; he does not concern the least basic standards of Oriental paintings in his works and that makes other Oriental painting artists raise questions "Is it O.K.?" or "Isn't it too much?"
Ignoring and destroying all the basics such as "empty apace on canvas," "technique of structuring by brush stroking," "ink staining," and "ink blotting," he extends the realm of an oriental behavioral art in painting. In the so called Korean painting there is something that cannot be departed from the concept of comprehension to the last. Thus in the history of fine art we can find a peculiar tradition in the East Asian countries (China, Korea, and Japan) that those amateurs such as men of letters, political outsiders, recluse scholars, or Buddhist priests guide those professionals in painting. In the East Asian countries the Taoistic or Confucius Namhwa (a trend of painting) always takes mental superiority over all the other trends. We Koreans also inherit this artistic climate of regarding the Namhwa as superior over all the others.
In case of Brother Chang-Bea he acquired all the techniques of the Namhwa painting by learning Wha (Drawing), Kak (seal engravings), and Suh (calligraphy). After acquiring those basics, he suddenly turned away from the world of Namhwa. Like an illiterate he begins to erase the cognitive flavor from his canvas. Not by "Knowledge" or "spirit" but by "the behavior and technique on canvas" he makes his appreciators experience indirectly.
What forces him to develop his painting in this direction seems to be his "artist spirit". Real "spirit of art always has the tendency to deny the already established. In this respect it is not tolerable for an artist of originality to be engaged in the repeated work of producing identicals no matter how great its payment may be. In my opinion the final criterion of the real art work lies in the fact that the real art works are always newly created. If an artist is restrained by the commercialism or compromises with the wish to fit into his appreciators' standards, he not only deceives himself but also cannot produce any good art work. Anything that is not produced by his appreciators.
From a distance and in the neighborhood I had a chance to observe Brother Chang-Bae for a long time. From the observation I can say that he is a brave man with the artist spirit. When a territory becomes familiar and intimate to him, he at once denies it and searches for a new weedy horizon. I think he is a rare artist armed with "the artist spirit." It is quite common for an Oriental painting artist around his fifties to build a comfortable shelter and stay in it. But even if Brother Chang-Bae is near his fifties, like a mischievous boy he is still constructing his original realm of painting by adopting very trivial feelings or factors of accidential very trivial feelings or factors of accidental chances.
As far as I know, many new artists are affected by him and echo with him. In this way whether he wants not the historical vision on his painting acquires a public logic so soon. but, the fact that his starting point is "Oriental painting" becomes an obstacle and a stimulus for an escape at the same time for this extraordinary liberalist who does not care about the distinction between east and west.
Thus he might be attacked by stiff traditionalists that he has misled the tradition of Korean painting. However Brother Chang-Bae and his artistic ｅxpressions which become formulated as a language and public logic of a period are too splendid that a just evaluation of him and his ｅxpressions can be given at least twenty years later. But, he is free from and he wanders around from a field to a mountain just in the ecstasy that he produces an event in the field of particularly quiet Oriental painting
Plate No. 10
Mixed Media on Korean Paper