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Drawing for Flower Garden of Dream /Spring

내 그림은 오방색바탕에 나전의 질감을 연상시키는 꽃과 새, 나비 등의 형상이 어우러진 자연의 나열이 대부분이다. 더러 투명하고 습성에 의해 번진 표면도 등장하고 거침없는 나이프의 진익김과 다채로운 색감들의 조화에 있지만, 또한 의도하지 않는 유성의 물성과 수성 조합의 수많은 반복실험을 통해 나만의 미의식으로 천착해가는 수행과정이다.

Most of my paintings are an array of nature: the harmony of flowers, birds and butterflies which remind a texture of mother of pearl with the five-colored background. Sometimes the surfaces are transparent and spread because of a wetness. Also, there is a harmony of unhindered knife’s kneading and various colors. Undergoing numerous repeated experiments, combining unintended oil-painting’s property of a matter and water, I am in the process of achieving my own aesthetic consciousness.

과거의 작업들은 검은 옻칠 바탕위에 촘촘히 박혀 환한 빛을 방사하는 자개가 박힌 자개장을 마주하고 한동안 흥분을 가라안지 못하였고 그 속에 내재된 전통의 미의식에 매료되어있었다. 이후의 내 작업에 변화라 한다면 전통미술의 여러 흔적들을 원용해 내는 방법론과 이른바 동양의 자연주의나 노장사상에서 기인하는 '무위'(無爲)적인 흔적에 그 근간을 둔다. 동양화를 전공한 나는 지필묵과 붓의 유기적 도상과 색채, 방법론을 길어 올리고 그것들을 10여 년 간 하나의 풍경 안으로 수렴해서 내방식의 몽유도원(몽유화원)을 가설하고 있다.

As my past works show, I could not calm down for a while after facing a cabinet, lacquered with black color and finely inlaid with mother of pearl emitting bright light, because of the excitement and I was fascinated by the traditional aesthetic consciousness embedded in it. From that time, my work is based on the methodology copying the trace of traditional art and the vestige of idleness rooted in naturalism and the thought of Laotzu. Over a decade, I have brought the organic diagram of a brush and ink, colors and the methodology into one scenery to build my own flower garden of dream based on my major, Oriental Paining.  

근자에 작업은 캔버스에 그려진 여러 동식물들과 인간이 어우러진 도상의 나이프연출은 무위적 이상세계를 꿈꾸는 자연으로 회귀 인 것이다.

Choreography of knife in my canvas that animals and plants and human are in harmony. My recent work is a return of the nature dreaming of ideal world, or idle nature.        

또한 화면에 펼처진 새와 나비 그리고 꽃, 온갖 식물과 인간 등은 모두 자신의 본성에 따라 살아가는 존재들이다. 그 존재들은 자연의 순리에 순응하며 자신의 생을 이어간다. 천(天)이 명하는 것을 일컬어 성(性)이라 하고, 성을 따르는 것을 일컬어 도(道)라고 했다. 어쩌면 내 그림에 그러한 힘과 기를 시각적으로 표현하고 있는지도 모른다. 이곳이 다름 아닌 도원경이고 피안의 세계가 아닐까 그리고 난 이번 전시 몽유화원(Drawing for flower garden of dream)의 봄(Spring)를 통해 내안에 행복한 경지를 적극 나열해 보이는 중이다.

Birds, butterflies, flowers, variety of plants and human… The creatures on the screen are living by their nature. The creatures continue their life following the laws of nature. It is called ‘Seong(gender)’ that ‘Cheon(sky)’ orders, and it is called ‘Doe(truth)’ to follow ‘Seong.’ I might be expressing that kind of energy and spirit visually in my paintings. It might be no more than an exotic utopia and a state of enlightenment. Through this exhibition – Spring of Drawing for flower garden of dream – I am actively reciting my spiritual realm of bliss.

LEE HIE-CHUN, LIFE COMMUNING WITH NATURE

By Park Young-taek, Kyonggi University Professor & Art Critic

Man and nature are in harmony and trees and flowers, birds and animals, coexist in Lee Hie-chun’s work. The viewer may relish gentle, extravagant hues blooming like dazzling flowers. Lively organisms are busy in gestures, and flowers spreading from the earth are messy and overflowing. What he presents in his painting is a happy state. Traditional Eastern and Western art often displays a hypothesis of happy icons and paradise: Oriental figure and landscape painting explicitly presents such happy situations. This genre of painting demonstrates enormous nature and the world full of countless life-forms, and the bodies of those contemplating the universe and dwelling in retirement. This painting represents extreme happiness and joy. Humans are not alone but are bound up with nature. 

Lee’s works are products of an intuitive unders
tanding of the object, not immediate depiction. He captures floating images with audacious brushwork, revealing the traces of the body’s active conduct. The purity of his expressive conduct and attempts to transcend mundane emotion and reason with this conduct harks back to the expressive principle of action painting and surrealist automatism. What we meet first of all are the traces of his body, gestures, and breath. He shows unintentionally vivid, lively brush strokes. His paintings - realized with water-based acrylic paint and calligraphic brushstrokes - are replete with spirituality. They attractively represent the spirituality of images, the magical quality of colors, and the power of icons.

The taste and flavor of unworldliness, dwelling in retirement and seclusion, found in literati painting, permeate in his painting. A variety of icons and colors discovered in folk painting are applied to the atmosphere. Lee creates his own composition by evenly blending various traces of traditional Korean art. Some spiritual aspects such as his view of the world and things dwell in his work. In his painting, all life-forms in nature remain in peace, harmony, and equality, and humans appear as a tiny part of nature and all things in the universe. He does not see nature and the object with the eyes of a human but with the eyes of plants and animals, and sees humans with the eyes of nature. His work includes the system of pantheism and theory of dependent arising or origination of Buddhism.

All living things in his painting are in vitality and harmony. They repeatedly flourish, sing, leap, and bloom. His work is a visualization of eternal force and energy all living things have on earth. Birds and deer, butterflies and flowers, all plants and humans are beings living in accordance with their instinct. They follow the laws of nature, sustaining their lives. All life forms in the world are organically associated with one another in dependent arising or origination. Each life form holds Buddha nature. In his painting, all living things in nature appear equal and harmonious. They are harmonized, infiltrated, and metamorphosed as living things with equal spirituality.

Lee Hie-chun’s Buddha head has the traces of paint and brush marks. Unintentionally rendered brush strokes are entangled with color. A face shows rich expression and minute differences. Lee fashions Buddha head with clay after treating as much clay as he can address with his hands. The face appears ideal and modest. The form appears simple and modest as a result of restrained expression and application of minimum artificiality, but concentrates and enhances diverse religious imports. His Buddha head has a face realizing the stage of Zen in which there is no agitation or distracting thoughts.

 

Spring Days, Looking at the smile of Buddha in his own excitement

chunghoon-Lee  (Doctor of Korean Literature)

In each of Lee Heechun's paintings, there exists a dreamlike flower garden where black horses roam among flowers and butterflies. Female bodies enjoy the scene shyly. Women hiding among those beautiful and warm flowers and brisky animals seek to grasp the outer world of recognition together with the butterflies. However, there are no gardeners' delicate touches to be felt in the flower garden where flamboyant and dazzling spring sunlight plays. There are no traces of labour to do the weeding, nor the concept of landlord in his paintings as if the dreamy flower garden were grown by nature. It's just as if the flowers bloom in time, and butterflies visit them naturally. And the living things hiding in the shadows of flowers peek out into the world as though they have been the like since the beginning of the world. What maintains the flower garden is only the glances from the outer world or of voyeurism. Likewise, all the scenes are stretched in so complete a silence that they are likely to give us the feeling of being monitored or even confined in a prison.  

In these respects, the Buddha's head in this exhibition, which appeared for the first time in his paintings, is quite unfamiliar. Further, the nonchalant feast of primary colors in his art pieces, which fill the Buddha's head, urges us to tilt our head for a moment. What does it intend to show us? Is it the painting of the first spring outing of a truth-seeker who just finished a thousand year meditation facing the wall in the deep cave of a snow-covered mountain? Above his Buddha's head, which is made up of letters, butterflies fly with great flaps of their wings. Like practicing giving up avarice, the Buddha in his paintings is fully filled with beautiful colors leaving no empty spaces. The Buddha, painter Lee depicted, strolls on the scenes of spring days. Might it not be that His deeply accumulated karma is resolved into each petal of those beautiful flowers? However, is it appropriate to think of Buddha in those spring days?

Spring days are beautiful since they are so short. Thus, they are as much sad as they are beautiful. The sorrow we feel in spring days is closely related to that of the moment when early seniors begin to realize that life is a kind of a sloppy spring fantasy. And the sense of regret in spring days could be far more extreme to those who dream to be in a Butterfly Dream. However, Buddha's mind is there where spring days are so short, and in the momentary beauty there lies eternal truth. So those who can weep bitterly for the falling cherry petals can readily wait until the next spring when the cherry blossoms beautify our world again. This is the smile of Buddha we meet in His own elegance in spring days. What makes spring days enjoyable is Buddha's mind. The reason people cannot enjoy spring days as they are is due to an obsession of the things afloat and a fear of losing things. However, it is absolutely true that spring days are beautiful, because they are so short. Those who understand the essence of falling flowers which readily bloom only to fall in so short a time will attain the Buddha's mind in itself. It is because spring days are the lover of eternality.

However, how many springs should we spend to arrive at the level of Buddhist magnificence which fills Buddha's head to the full? For butterflies to fly above the Buddha's head full of letters' fragrance as beautifully as they are in the paintings, how many false recognitions of oneself should be corrected? For those who cannot face the truth or facts which are so clear, spring days are cold. Thus, people not only should put down their passion to arrive at the truth, but should also be silent while giving up the confidence of their lives in those spring days. Without this, the Buddha's magnificent world would not exist. There will not be a spring day where all people can not reveal their original individual characters. We should not forget the truth that as there are seeds kept even in the frozen land, we should harvest our own confidence and obsession into fertilizer for our own blossoming. However, this sentiment should be forgotten when spring days come. Just enjoy the elegance of spring even when you are in deathly agony. Forget the reason why you cannot enjoy spring days as well as the reason why you enjoy them. In those days, just be grateful for the fact that you breathe in this world. From this elegance, Buddha's merciful smile rises.

Fusion of Improvisation with Idealistic Transcendence & Recovery of Nature of Painting Itself

Choi Byung-kil (Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of Wonkwang University, Korea)

A middle-standing Korean painter Lee Hie-chun has been stuck by traditional rendering techniques and materials constantly and persistently until an event several years ago, in particular, an international art fair held at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, USA, 2008. After returning to his studio with small success, he fell in pondering over his identity as an artist whether or not having exclusive icons survivable at the contemporary art world. In several months, it finally brought about a rapid, but fundamental transformation of his artistic style. 

His recent artistic style is a borrowing of images from the past. He had studied Chinese Painting at Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China, for two year, although he was a part-time lecturer. In spite of being taught directly from a professor as well as an artist old and famous for traditional expression, his artistic style nonetheless became more informal. It was ironical. Shortly after his coming back to his studio in Korea, he showed figures from various angles and seeming to float on traditional Korean paper using Pōmòfǎ(潑墨法) with Indian-ink and water at their outlines as in Dream-Reading of the Middle Path(2008). That new trend made some people having familiar with him being surprised. It apparently meant an escape from a restricted rendering technique, yet not from a traditional material. In this picture, the central figure is straightforwardly gazing at the seers. It seems to observe the law of frontality as in Egyptian statues. Between the central figure and the seer, thus there begins to form a direct communication, and owing to Pōmòfǎ at their outlines their dialogues seem to be continued to eternity. Furthermore, several humans and animals in small size located around the central figure seem to bring about its various shapes. 

And in particular, his emphatic focus on human forms was a big leap or transfer from Naturalism to Humanism. His human forms are not sketched or conceived in advance, but naturally and improvisationally depicted as he breathes in and out for life. From this stage, he began to experience a freedom of absolute spirit. If we admit this as true, his further studying at China is perhaps not to deepen his ability to depict things on more traditional way, but to seek for his eternal spiritual nest. Likewise his methodology was to make himself move from Naturalism to Humanism, and finally to Subjectivism, i.e., to fathoming of his own inner world. 

Then his spirit gradually began to dream of the visionary realm depicted in the key sentences from Xiāoyáoyóu Piān(逍遙遊 篇) by Zhuāngzǐ(莊子)(BC 369-286), a Chinese great scholar and thinker in ancient times. His visionary world created from Chūnqiūzhàn- guóshídài(春秋戰國時代) being stained by endless wars for obtaining the territories among neighboring dynasties is, on the contrary, to take a stroll on the absolute and free world, or to taste real happiness in the freedom as a gigantic heart of great nature beyond power, class, property, etc. Entirely absorbed at Zhuāngzǐ’s wisdom, then there shows a little change in his titles, from Dream-Reading of the Middle Path to The Middle Path-The Earth Traveling. What shape does such a change in title show on the canvas? Art Critic, Kim Sun-tae, suggested the title of the introduction for his solo exhibition at AKA Gallery, Jeonju, Korea, 2009, as Wúwéizìrán(無爲自然)-The Middle Path and The Space of Mandala. But, in my opinion, this title is also influenced by Zhuāngzǐ’s thought. In this style, he introduced only another rendering technique and material. Until arriving at this stage, he wandered about for a while. One day he dropped in his wife’s parents’ house, where he saw the old nacre-inlayed cabinet. It was a great discovery for him, and for his great next step.

The carefully knife-using strokes with different colors in oil paints were one of the patterns acquired from nacre-inlayed cabinet. That stroke evokes a kind of mysterious display of colors, and simplified and minimal touch. Insidiously, his traditional paper was changed into canvas mainly used for oil painting. Only his spirit is rooted into Oriental thought. Now, he is not restricted to any rule of depiction, material, technique, etc. He is leading towards an eternal freedom. In an initial stage of new style, Zhuāngzǐ, an incarnation of an artist himself, has to exist on the canvas. But he gradually introduced a technique of impersonation, for instance, to personify human forms into animal or flower or plant ones. 

What’s the reason for a change as such in title into Mèngyóuhuāyuántú(夢遊花園圖) at Qíwùlùn(齊物論) by Zhuāngzǐ, implying no distinction between reality and dream or the brevity of human life? 

First of all, he seems to intend to hide himself behind the canvas, and prefers to communicate indirectly. It is a strategy of idealistic transcendence, and indirect dialogue, sometimes stronger than direct one. Secondly, his strategy is focused upon icons with different meanings. For example, the peony flowers, implying wealth and honor, and the cherry flower, implying chastity, candor and spiritual beauty, are scattered on the canvas. That was not all. The butterflies, horses, birds, etc. are mingled with them. 

In a word, it is the collection of different icons. They are freely dancing on the canvas with the objects of similar significance. In another words, it is a narrative of icons, the sets of objects appearing or speaking for his dream, sometimes opposite to his reality, but sometimes quite remote from reality. More frankly speaking, any attempt to distinguish reality from dream in his recent artworks is not important. In some, the peony flowers are grown from a curved trunk of old tree, even though it is an annual plant. Thus the objects on the canvas are nothing but individual icons, existing in same space. The artist is longing for reality in dream, and at the same time dream in reality. He endeavors to speak to reality in dream, as well as dream in reality via different icons. We have to pay attention to flatness of depicted object. The loss of their three-dimensionality seems to prevent us from a proper appreciation of them, but rather it makes us transcend the limitation of time and pace. Finally, he acquired freedom in both spiritual and material realms, and recovered the nature of the painting itself as argued by art critic, Clement Greenberg(1909-94), an admirer of the Abstract Expressionism .                        

The space of letting nature be, middle path and mandala

Kim, Sun Tae (Art Critic)

There is a modifying word of ‘beauty of nature’ which accompanies with ‘beauty of refinement’ when it comes to drawing. The modifier like mindlessness, technique of non technique, unadorned simplicity and plain beauty are the specified words for the beauty of letting nature be. Letting be means ‘not to make new traces’ not to mean ‘not to do anything’ as a literal meaning of it. Namely, it is nature as it is without manipulation. Letting be is the ideal status without binding to anything and searching anything in Zen Buddhism. Letting nature be is becoming the intact shape of nature without any decoration as it was born oneness to the nature. The aesthetics of letting nature be which has been tried by painter, Hee Chun Lee is not made from the training of technique. It is an achievement of becoming oneness of external technique obtained from his pure personality, his life in creed and internal philosophy. 

The art for Hee Chun Lee means themiddle area without balancing off to any sides of both crossing over steadily the reality and the ideal rather than the concept of middle path in Buddhism. It is a world of equality which embraces everything in the world with maintaining the reality and feeling the meaning of life without abundance and without shortage.

Hee Chun Lee says that he worked on it with leaving his mind on the brush while thinking about ‘Lao-tzu’who did not try anything artificially. The art which is melted with idea of the artist without fake, that is in the same context of philosophical principle of Lao-tzu’who stressed the mindlessness and letting be. Therefore, the natural message which resembles the philosophy of Lao-tzu like ‘Excellent technique looks humble’ or ‘Nirvana resembles the nature’ is the nature and character of this world of art.

His painting which is self satisfied within the expression without expression is taking another route. It can be said perhaps as an expansion of material. His screen directly approaches with vividness of material and freedom from activity. The smoothly made touch sometimes is clearly realized through the sticky smashing touch with the acryl, stone powder and sticky feeling of oil painting pigment. However, it shows mysteriously the special taste of Korean painting drawn on the cloth. The change of the material is enough to provide the nice meeting with breathing of safety for many people to feel that there is a drawing like a painting.

The scenes from the daily life softly are spread like the river flowing nested like Zen riddle with showing combination of material in harmony of material with the most different materials of Korean painting and western painting and the surrealistic mood, including showing the mediocre position of material. That’s not all. Any corner of his painting is filled with the things which can be found by us anywhere. It seems that they co-exist at the release into one space like utopia world, Shangri-La and mandala.

The drawing for him is a pattern to adopt the letting nature be through the drawing action. It is an action to attain spiritual state of perfect selflessness by means of drawing. Needless to say, the concentration of Hee Chun Lee via painting is an empathy in unification with nature and it is as same as the establishing the genuine ‘area of middle path’.