작성일 : 07-09-11 18:02
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Why Does Wookgok Draw Dalma?
By Lee Yong(Editorial Board Member, Kyunghyang Newspaper; Director of Jeongdong Kyunghyang Gallery)
Woongok Kang jangwon is different from any other artists. I am not talking about apparent distinctiveness such as his pony tail at the age of 61, his smooth talk of Fine Arts theories, his Namdo accent in lively folk tunes, and inherent diligence. His uniqueness is his own behavior and practices, more specifically the inside of his consciousness as an artist which is transferred to his actions. I first deemed Woongok as a unique artist when I saw his painting, “Dalma (달마도, 達磨圖)”
My initial inquiry was: “Why does Woongok draw Dalma?” He is not a Zen monk or a person who makes a living by painting Dalma; but, why does he draw Dalma over and over again? I was even worried if drawing Dalma would not hurt the reputation of an established artist like Woongok. However, before long, I found out the reason.
Dalma drawings express meditative ideas with a traditional technique of painting. Woongok embodies Buddha’s heart through Dalma. As he expresses internal spirits than external realism of Dalma, he aspires to reach the pinnacle of art.
Woongok’s paintings, “Dalma” and “Ten Oxherding Pictures,” were different from other Oriental paintings as they try to contain Buddha’s ideas while looking at the wall like Buddhist monks mediating facing the wall.
In addition to justifications such as principles and laws, Woongok seemed to draw Dalma because of his assessment that previous Dalma paintings were not suitable. While drawings by artists specialized in Dalma have climatic brush strokes, Dalma’s grace is poorly expressed in them. Paintings by Buddhist masters or the literati may have pure intention but their clumsy brush strokes and shades of ink show insufficient pictorial quality. Woongok ceaselessly devoted himself to Dalma paintings with sophisticated brush strokes and high pictorial quality.
He did not try to arouse people from ignorance only through drawings. Since the late 1990s, he published Techniques of Oriental Paintings, which was like a textbook for aspiring Oriental artists and Earnest Wishes, Kang jangwon’s collection of illustrated essays for junior scholars. Also, he made efforts to change terminology of Oriental paintings mostly originated from Chinese language to Korean language, which received unexpected reactions in the field of arts.
Paintings by Woongok Kang jangwon are beautiful. Their theme is nature and they are the products acquired from infinite cultivation with emotional literary and writing spirits. The artist converts the concept of beauty to sounds to be heard (or to be seen). His art philosophy which is expressed by listening to and feeling our mountains and rivers with a body takes aesthetic approaches on the basis of art theories of stone waves (석도, 石濤) and Buddhist meditative ideas he has cultivated.
Spiritual support in Woongok’s paintings – meditative ideas and art theory – is proudly shown in his collection of illustrated essays, Earnest Wishes. Woongok’s drawings in which the smell of kimchi, the taste of soybean paste, and pansori are naturally embedded express his “earnest wishes” for our Oriental paintings and his oath to save the people.
His paints developed from basic trainings in flower-and-birds paintings by the literati and black-and-white paintings allow you to feel exciting and animating traits. A discussion on an artist’s talent may be an insufficient explanation but they do show the artist’s inherent talent. There is no stopping. It seems that the artist could not control his artistic abilities and talents that were bursting out of his body so he managed to contain them in the canvas with his brush. The artist’s talent that could not be used with his brush did not stay in black and white. By using techniques of colored paintings, he showed mountains and rivers in strong primary colors, he was pouring out his spirit of graceful arts.
Especially his works that will be introduced in this exhibition will enable you to take a glimpse at his diverse abilities. Some paints are expressed only with shades of blacks, while others are smoothly created with balanced mix of colors and shades of black. Nobility of three elements – poem, writing, and drawing – is well shown with literary components and letters.
“When my heart broken from missing you becomes the soil of an empty hill,
I will be a lone apricot tree in front of the window of your den,
And be blossomed alone in the middle of snow and shine with moonlight.”
Excerpt from “A Lone Apricot Tree” by Kang jangwon
The artist adds poems he wrote himself in elegant writing he learned from his youth to give life and interest viewers. Not just for simple pleasure of poetry but for literary spirit which has been losing its stature in recent years, he focuses on writing rhymed verses with Koreans’ emotions. Woongok’s belief that enthusiasm creates lively pictures appears to be somewhat reasonable.
A novelist, Moon-yeol Lee’s short story, “The Golden Pheonix,” frankly discusses ultimate objective and essence of arts through the conversation between a calligrapher named Seokdam, who is a descendent of Yeongnam Myeongyoo (명유, 名儒), and his pupil named Gojuk. As Seokdam’s meditating mentality conflicts with Gojuk’s expressive beauty, the novel shows the argument on arts and craft, making readers contemplate an apex of arts.
I hope that this exhibition presents an opportunity for Woongok with solid theoretical background and exceptional power of the pen to be further developed and matured and see the phoenix’s golden wings and powerful flight.