Empty of Meaning, Full of Art


In Hollywood many believe that film is the most advanced art form in history. Perhaps the popularity of the form is due to how easy it is to enjoy. (The phrase, "Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!" comes to mind). With painting, however, and particularly abstraction, the viewer has to actively participate, to contemplate, in order create a sense of meaning. Painting, regardless if you view the form as advanced, or primative, has been around longer than language. Perhaps our ancestors beat drums before drawing horses on the walls in the caves at Lascaux, perhaps not. To state the obvious, painting, as picture-making, is about the movement of of paint on the picure plane. It sounds like a very simple concept and yet, in the West, painting was a slave to reality, a predacessor to photography, always clinging to artiface and mimicry instead of baring her soul. It was only when painters approaching the apex of Modernity traveled to the Orient and became infatuated with the roots of abstraction in the brush painting, calligraphy, and landscape artists of the East, that the roots of abstraction deepened, transplanted in the West by the likes of Matisse and flowering in the middle of the 2oth century in the United States in the likes of Pollack et al.

So it is only fitting that today, in painters coming from the East, abstract expressionism is purified with such grace and clarity as seen in the P.Y.O. Gallery one man show by artist Lee Kang So. In a series of large scale canvases, mostly with a white or nuetral background, and mostly black ink or white or gray paint brushwork, the meaning of painting is distilled to the purest essence, the action of the brush, moving in reflection of elemental nature. Here, rock, there, a waterfall, a duck, a pond, perhaps, or anything that comes to mind. In a conversation graciously translated by the artist's lovely young adult daughter, he explained to me that he doesn't try to convey anything at all. The movement is unconciously meditative. As an artist he does not try to paint. He does not approach each canvas with a different mood, or grasping at memories, although the viewer will recall his or her own memories through the act of seeing. He is an artist who lets the brush talk, conveying possibility through suggestion. While the images of the work give you an idea of what they look like, going to see them in person, if you can, is going to move you in a more profound manner. (Nudge, nudge).

© 2009, Moira Cue for The Hollywood Sentinel.