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On the Non-Pictorial of Ha Chong-Hyun-Lee Yil l Art Critic     2007/08/04
On the Non-Pictorial of Ha Chong-Hyun-Lee Yil l Art Critic

I wrote forewords for Ha Chong-Hyun's first and second solo exhibition in Korea and am happy now to write one for his third. (Ha has had five solo exhibitions altogether, inckuding two in Japan) It seems to me that this suggests not only my close relationship with him but also an act of providence. Since I came back from Paris in 1965 I have been in constant contact with him and with his art and have watched the way in which he has been creating his own world of painting.

It was at the Beiennale de Paris in the spring of 1965 that I was first exposed to his work. As far as I can remember, the work he displayed there was a painting of a somewhat outdated informel nature with somber material, suggestive of an extremely dehydrated squid.

However, since hat time I have observed an extraordinary metamorphosis taking place in him. Entering the later 1960's,while trailing notes of informel were stil lingering in the climate of the art world in Korea, he audaciously pushed his geometrical painting. What was surfacing in his drive for compositional abstraction was his ingrained obsession with materiality, coupled with his adherence to the s0-called manual labor.

Soon afterward Ha became totally engrossed in objact works. This period, though short-lived, may be called his A.G. Years. This period lead the way to his painting of objects as flattened planes of today.

At his first solo exhibithion at Myongdong Gallery in 1974, I wrote as follows in my expository remarks:

"In this artist, a variety of inclinations, each conflicting with the others, seems to co-exist quite naturally. In other words, there arises a wholesome experimental spirit whereby informal simplicity and well-studied elaboration could be integrated into a whole."

Though written more than a decade ago, I am still looking at his work from this angle.

His works, changing tracks again to those on the plane as far back as around 1975, were conceived in diversity. To him, the change of tracks was concerned outright with an orignal question of what painting is, after all. That is to say his works are raising a number of questions as regards, for instance, the plane and pictoriality, materiality and surface, or, the assimilation of the pigments to the hemp canvas.

He presents us with definite and clear answers to these questions in a series of recent works on joining. He uses hempen cloth of coarse texture as canvas and pushes pigments through the fabric. The pigments make an appearance again on the reverse surface quite naturally. This is an approach that is quite idiosyncratic. Here a homogenizing process takes place between the pigments and the hempen cloth, one which signifies a total exclusion of pictorial expression in the work of painting. This is why the title of this remark used the words non-pictorial paintings.

In many ways, Ha's paintings are somewhat expressionless. They look as if they are nothing but pisces of hemp cloth in wooden frames. And this is really so. He refuses to drew anything on the surface or to load pigments on the canvas. Rather he is pursuing the plane, in the very state of its own being, as far as possible. Yet, the state is not at all a natura state of doing nothing. Even if his plane seems, at a first glance, to be so emotionless, it is an outcome of elaborate well-studied manual labor, something we can call non-deliberate elaboration. When one gazes at hisplane more closely, one detects that it is monochromatic but imbused with deliberate nuances, opening a world of refined sensitivity.

Thus one may say that Ha's painting is situated on the border line between painting and non-painting. However, as far as he is concerned, it would be meaningless to make a distinction between the two. This is because what concerns him is how to reveal the unique world that arises from the encounter between materiality and sensitivity. (May 1984)

 자연의 원소적 상태로의 회귀-하종현의 근작에 대하여-윤진섭 l 미술 평론가,
 하종현의 '비회화적(非繪畵的)' 회화에 대하여-이일ㅣ미술평론가
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