Choi Yongdae Text
Art Critic Kim, Seong Ho, March 2014
‘Gray Forest’ gives ‘poetic metaphor’
The solo exhibition of artist Yongdae Choi, that sums up 30 years of his art, which started in 1985, presents an in-depth reinterpretation of his visualized theme from the 2000s, ‘La Foret'(Forest). This shows his constant experiments, and is a visible product of the coexistence of nature and human beings. It is not only limited to current interests, but is also something likethe essence that is an extension of poetic language, which he has studied through the formative language of drawing, objets, and installations since his first solo exhibition in 1992, and it examinesthemes that seek a way for nature and human beings to coexist. At his solo exhibition in 1999, after he finished his six-year study in France during the 1990s, he describes his oeuvre as follows:
““For me / painting is no different / from a joint that connects / the existence called life / with the absence
called death. / Therefore / all of my paintings are / the language between life and death””
Such an artistic statement is one of the subjects that enabled him to reach the world of Yongdae Choi’s
artworks. From the period when he went through the early Expressionist style up to a series of recent
exhibitions, ‘La Foret’, his works have been interpreted as a ‘world of gap’, where existence and absence, life and death confront each other. This world can be evaluated as creating a ‘poetic language as a joint’, for it tries to showreconciliation with a dualistic opposition between two sides.
His work is difficult to classify, but his artworks can be divided into three periods, including the ‘World of
Poetic Language(1992-1999)’, the ‘World of Gap(2000-2008)’, and the ‘World of the Black and Gray
Forest(2009-)’. Based on this classification, his recent works can be called the world of the ‘Gray Forest’. It is a magic and mysterious world that is ‘either black or white’, and iscreated by intersecting black and white acrylic paint. The foundation of this world shows ‘brushing as an act of demolition’, to tear down the
structural contemplation of dichotomy, such as the object/background, the subject/object, and
humans/nature. Look! This mysterious and magical effect of gray tones, created by mixing different
materials, makes his artwork into the landscape ofmisty places or dawn or even the evening, when the sun
Not only that, but alsothe simplified shape of trees drawn vertically with black paint over a mysterious stratum is soon dissolved by the artist’s horizontal brushing before the paint dries. Such brushing, quickly conducted, as if saving energy, sneaks the trees into the background, and makes the background go inside the trees. Furthermore, it makes the tree, as an individual object, effectively manifest into the universal forest. Each tree shares its skin with the other by this brushing, and finally recovers the identity of nature as a group calledthe ‘forest’. It is done to dissolve the‘visible’ trees, to blur them, to make them ‘invisible’, and to make the viewers analogize ‘something invisible’ endlessly. Yes, it is definitely a ‘forest’, but also a macroscopic metaphor for the world of human beings.
Also, Shaped Canvas with split screen, which intervened as a space for intermediating both sides to seekthe coexistence of human beings and nature, shown in 5 solo exhibitions in France in 2000, has been
concretized as a space of ‘margin not margin’ in recent works to show the aesthetics of ‘abundance’ and
‘emptiness’. This paradoxical space filled with white paint, yet empty at the same time, sticks
‘existence/absence’together, connects elements of dualistic confrontation, and recovers disconnected
images and languages. In that sense, this is a space of silence that completes the ‘world of gap’, and the
‘window of conversation’ that enables the artist and audiences to meet.
Thus, his works intermediate ‘life/death’, ‘artwork/audience’, and ‘image/text’ to look for the ‘coexistence of
human beings and nature’ continuously. Communication between ‘human beings/nature’ is identical to
theaesthetic interest of his artworks from his early works in the Expressionist style to a series of his refined
works called ‘La Foret’. His artworks that listen to the voice of nature incarnated within oneself, and which
excavate communication and mutual reactions between ‘human beings/nature’ are not divided into subject
and object anymore. They are recovered as a meeting with another subject different from the subject. In
terms of his artworks, his aesthetic perception and formative language of the ‘world of gap’, that tears down the wall between subject and object and studies both sides through a meeting of different subjects, are still a virtue that can be discovered in his paintings. It is like a piece of a poem and one of poetic metaphor.
Artist Yongdae Choi lets us hear what the ‘inaudible message’ and ‘invisible something’ that come from the ‘Gray Forest’ are in a low voice. His ‘margin not margin’ that tells of ‘something invisible’ is certainly a spatial space made for mutual communication between such horizontal subjects. He is making a ‘mesh that hardly shows’, as if writing a poem. With poetic metaphor that moves your heart and the slow steps of