By Culture feature editor Sion Khan
When I heard that the exhibition titled "Geumgangdowondo" by artist Kim Young-ok would be held at Seongnam Art Center Gallery 808 from March 14 to 21, 2023, I visited there hurriedly because Kim worked on the theme of Geumgangsan Mountain, which is the spirit of the Korean people.
According to the words of many predecessors, I think it is a scenery that can only be seen in dreams when looking at partial sketches of those who have been there.
It means that Geumgangsan Mountain is so beautiful and mysterious.
Geumgangsan Mountain is widely spread across Geumgang-gun, Goseong-gun, and Tongcheon-gun in Gangwon-do (North Korea) in the northern part of the Taebaek Mountains, and has five mountain names. The first is Geumgang River, the second Gaetgol, the third Nirvana, the fourth Pungak, and the fifth Gidal.
The peak of the mountain is 10,000 peaks, and the rocks stand tall like bones, spread out to the east, and look down at the blue sea, and cedar and fir trees are as if they are piercing the sky, as shown in the picture.
There are two peaks, Ilchulbong Peak and Wolchulbong Peak, so you can see the sun and moon rising, and it is said that there are 108 temples in total in the inner and outer mountains.
Gyeomjae Jeongseon's <Geumgangsanjeon> depicts the ideal world that exists in reality, she says.
Isn't the ideal world a free and happy world in nature if all living things coexist organically and their existence itself is beautiful and inhabited.
Therefore, artist Kim may have wanted to express the beauty of Geumgangsan Mountain in a unique formative language.
For a long time, she has captured the four seasons of nature with ink-and-wash painting, an oriental painting method.
She has shown her own style of painting through a number of exhibitions, including 19 individual exhibitions, invitation exhibitions at home and abroad, and member exhibitions, while simultaneously dreaming of becoming an educator and writer.
For more than 30 years, she has been enjoying traditional ink-and-wash painting and flower painting while encountering silgyeongsansu using nature as a friend.
As she majored in Korean painting, she attracted materials that were not covered in her previous work, such as colorful colors, ideological landscapes, and reinterpretation of classics.
This change originated from reflection on the work attitude and artistry acquired through long-term creative activities.
Above all, there was a desire to express the ideal for the safety of the lonely and tired body and mind of modern people living complex and difficult lives.
Since utopia is an ideal and completely imaginary world with the best condition that humans can think of, dreaming of a beautiful and happy life is no different from before.
“Geumgangjeon” is a realistic depiction of the imaginary utopia, and “Mongyudowondo “is an utopia that depicts the dream, not the real one.
These two paintings, "Mongyudowondo" and "Geumgangsando," were thought to be the paradise world that modern people miss and the resting place of their minds.
Since then, "Mongyudowondo" has been to an ideal world that she has never been to, and "Geumgangsan Mountain" can be said to be an existing utopia.
Therefore, by collaborating with these two ideals, she created a new painting that can show the ideals of modern people they pursue, purify and heal their body and mind.
That's what artist Kim Young-ok calls "Geumgangdowondo."
Artist Kim Young-ok combined the two worlds of "Mongyudowondo" and "Geumgangsanjeon" to portray the utopia with the best ecstatic color and creative screen composition that nature can show off.
As a result, it makes us believe that "Geumgangdowondo" is a world of utopia or Mureungdowon that exists somewhere.
The speciality of the "GeumgangdoWondo" series is also revealed in the form of expression (materials and techniques).
For artists, materials act as a form of expression and formative language that contains content.
You can read the artist's thoughts while determining the formative identity. Therefore, changes in materials are related to changes in the artist's molding consciousness.
So is Kim Young-ok's drastic change and modification of materials.
The provocative attempt to modify the two classical masterpieces into new schematics and give them a colorful and ideal color that is hard to see in reality is a formality that was not felt in the previous ink painting.
Instead of ink, the vividness and splendor of acrylic are unique.
The combination of five colors and pastel tones on the elasticity of the canvas is more intense than the absorption and smudging of Korean paper.
The traces of considering the order, harmony, and folk painting characteristics of nature while incorporating Obongdo's schematic into the screen of Geumgangsanjeon are also unusual.
It is pursuing both visual effects and symbolic meanings that utilize decorative properties, drawing public favorability.
As such, the <Geumgangdowondo> series is far from the effect of ink-and-wash painting and the emotions that can only be tasted in Hanji, but it stands out for its attempts to explore various forms with colorful and intense colors and modern aesthetics.
In terms of production motivation, materials, and expression techniques, we looked at "Geumgangdowondo," but in fact, artist Kim Young-ok's work maintains an ideal natural beauty as if it contains a Korean view of nature and fresh ideas of the Korean people.
In addition, the Geumgangdowondo series contains more landscape elements in that it expresses the idealized landscape.
Ultimately, Kim Young-ok's attitude of pursuing new artistic experiences through endless self-change rather than reality while maintaining the spirit inherent in traditional arithmetic paintings is the essence of art that she wanted to include in "Geumgangdowondo."
For an artist, imagination is the ability to transform all images that have come to be accepted as perceptual action, and above all, the ability to free us from fixed images and change images.
A new combination of images, that is, an unexpected image of nature, is a product of imagination, and the results created by the power of imagination determine the width and depth of the viewer's emotions.
Therefore, artist Kim Young-ok impresses the viewers with the pure imagination and originality that the artist must truly have.
In conclusion, Kim Young-ok's "Geumgangdowondo" proudly shows her own formative world as an endless challenge to her ideal, and in particular, it combines and transforms the image of traditional landscape paintings with new formality and imagination to further expand the horizon of Korean contemporary art.
It also clarifies the value or purpose of art by portraying the "natural of healing" that comforts the tired body and mind of modern people, and I hope that "Geumgangdowondo" will become an utopia depicting mountains that soothe modern people's tired souls.