Sanggon Chung - Skin/Deep

Park young taik (Prof, of Kyonggi University Korea, Art critic) 

Scenery is newly interpreted and revived by the viewers' viewpoints and minds. Actually, an object's nature never changes. Only its appearance changes according to a viewer's perspective. Technically, the artist, his or her own disposition is the thing that gives meaning to the world/scenery. For that reason, sceneries are historical, experiential, and humanistic. Since a perspective or value toward the scenery already exists, ’true scenery' does not exist. Western and Eastern landscape paintings are only available with the difference of point of view and deviation in a view of the world and ontology. In his atelier which is placed in the middle of nature, the sceneries over the windows are captured on a canvas. Chung puts the canvas on a table (not an easel), and follows the pencil line, moving around the table. In the canvas under the artist's fully concentrated view, there is no room for one-point-view or perspective to squeeze in between. The whole body is accumulating, conforming to the given surface. Attached to the surface of the canvas, it caresses and embodies the scenery. Viewers are going to notice that it seems like to live altogether with his body, senses, and constructing substances. Those painting methods are the experience which used to be able in Eastern traditional paintings. It means it is realized in a picture that one looks down from a viewpoint of sky, constructs images as sprouting creatures on earth, adapts himself/herself to given materials and pursues a harmonious life. The point of view is different from retina-centrism which observes the world only through one's eye but it is the level that achieves idea, emotion, and attitude towards the world. It is an experiential life and way of painting at the same time.

Ancestors dealt with life, learning, and painting in all the same way, the ascetical level. The above-mentioned 'ascetical' is not different from a life in which one can find 'enlightenment' about the world, and pursue it. The interesting part is that Chung talks about his attitude and method in ‘ascetical attitude’, explaining about his work. In other words, the methods, the style, and the manner to him are not only just technical aspects, but are constructed by the artist’s inevitable will and are interconnected with reaction to the reality, comments about values and experiences. Therefore, the methodology of painting and style to him is a reaction of body to the world, materialization of senses, and something that conveys his message.

Accordingly, it seems like that he superfluously shows typicality of the dramatic and splendid scenery, but the scenery in his frame is very different from other conventional landscapes. He works about nature’s scenery that gives a feeling as if you are deep in a mountain or a primeval forest. A nature that Chung encountered through his travel and a nature around his atelier are collaged into one space. It is both real scenery and fictional scenery. As for me, I am attracted by little grasses or trees at the bottom of the frame (occasionally emphasized in close-up). Maybe he wanted to express the value of the things which are familiar insignificant but have strong vitality (energy). He always has given attention to energy, exhalation, vitality which things/living creatures release. On the other hand, he may have wanted to break cliché of conventional landscapes. This landscape is a fictional scene that is combined by imagination but gives a sense of déjà vu. In fact, it is meaningless what the place is. What he cares is his emotion, senses, experiences toward nature. It is the matter of how to realize his inspiration from nature, ‘the truth of sensibility’ in his paintings. However, to draw the nature, one must have an effective methodology and style of painting. Therefore, the way of painting cannot be already-given, fixed, or conventional. Painting is that one makes his/her own sensuous work effectively and constantly in a conventional form. In other words, painting is, materialization of senses. A space of painting is the place where results have settled which are given after a body and senses of an artist react to the world.

The canvas of Sanggon Chung represents a chaotic state of swarming substances. The canvas is floating on the whole and filled with the states of brush stroke, shaking, wetness, stickiness, or trembling. The intense movement is felt and the dizziness of senses is about to surge which is derived when you met the passage of time and the scenery. It seems as if the images dragging the screen, the digital sensibility conflicts with the analogue painting.

The overflow of solvents which dissolves oil paints makes the surface of it wet, so properties of the matters in the canvas have not been fixed but are floating. It is filled with traces of split, spread colors and brush touches come from fast, strong moves. The painting is both accident and inevitable, is mixture of digital and analogue and also mixture of the surface (skin) and the depth. The substances cross from an image to the other image. This is the painting in which they all are in harmony and coexist. The traces of several layers of the surface remind us of mountains, rocks, waterfalls, trees, and grasses in an instant. They spread out in a feeling of the air, and convey humidity, wind, and the scent of woods psychedelically. It is filled with substances and solvents which are ontological conditions of painting, emotions of the body which conform the physical law, intervene and react at every moment during painting, and the traces which reflect a pile of senses. Chung remembers nature’s scenery, gathers the emotions derived from seeing scenery outside the window, and draws it as material signs of paints which spread out every moment. I recalled a series of lithographs which he made long time ago. It feels as if the style of his lithographs which is full of pictorial traces revives in the paintings of the present.

Art is a work which is eager for profoundness. However profoundness does not allow verticality which conflict with flat and even surface/epidermis. Painting is a work which puts up the verticality on the horizontality, excavates the profoundness and crosses infinitely. In short, Painting is a work which excavates the great profoundness in the thin surface and carves sensitive senses. Therefore, painting is a work which makes the ‘skin/deep’. A flat surface is clearly existential condition of painting and limited space. It is painting to draw a line of senses on the surface and make profoundness. The ascetic time in which Chung keeps drawing is covered through paints and brush strokes/gestures. Colors and brush strokes (gestures) are involved in sensuous painting. If painting sustained by distinct outlines is involved in geometry or reason, and if it represents the world by already transcendental codes, the floating brush strokes, the trembling gestures, the shaking time and the melting colors which Chung shows, are make emotion and senses priority, react to the world by their own body, inhale and exhale it repeatedly. As living, breathing nature!

He tries to create his own paintings that express the raw sceneries that he experienced and its flesh and scent. That is not a work to reproduce the existing world. That is a work to build a new world with Chung’s senses. Also, it is a renewal work to abandon established landscape/painting code. Chung still insists analog paintings, using traditional tools, canvas, oil paint, brush, and he re-draws the historic landscape. However, he re-reads sceneries and drags the issue on style. He puts on emotional grid on the surface of a flat canvas. Therefore, over the canvas, emotional lines, touches of a brush of complex senses, colors, chunks of substances, and body moves pass and are laid colors and substances that Chung chose not only fill the inside of outline, but also a realize a pure state pictorial fact. It means he re-reads the world/scenery out of body senses that only Chung can understand, longing for an infinite depth.