■ 평론 / Criticism

 김원희  | 2007·08·18 13:40 | HIT : 15,766 | VOTE : 1,562 |

Hybrids    2007.9.12~21.


The second highest building in the world, at a height of 620m and 150 floors, will be built in Yongsan, in the heart of Seoul, in the year 2013.

It is in Korea where the highest buildings in the world are built, among the Buddhist temples summoning to prayer through bells reproducing the cry of sea dragons that so frightened whales.


When two different species cross, a new hybrid creature is born. The hybrid born from the cohabitation between the East and the West grows in Korea.


Sometimes, from the mixture of heterogeneous elements, harmony is born, just as it blooms in Nam June Paik’s hybridised art, in which the East and the West cross in a reflective quest of roots. The work by this western educated Korean video-artist has a foundational character for the art of the second half of the 20th century.


In TV Buda (1974), that symbolic union by Nam Yune Paik is brought to life. A sitting sculpture of Buddha confronts the image of its face reproduced in a close-circuit television. Images pouring out from the TV boxes are those that have gone deep into the hybridising, or the influence, between both worlds.


In this exhibition in which a Korean artist and four Spanish creators participate, the interwoven threads between both shores can be detected.


In the cascades of images with resonances from Western art in Kim Weon-Hee’s work, there is an open door allowing the fecundation of both worlds. Through a new representation of reality that Gauguin sought in the South Seas, and that was already present in Eastern representations, flooded with the Pop-Art’s aesthetic, sail Veermer and Lichtenstein, Picasso and Matisse, but the boat is being led by a fantastic triad: a new sea dragon, son of Magritte’s bowler hats and clouds; Chagall’s dreams and Richter’s out-of-focus reality, inhabiting waters criss-crossed with roses, orange poppies and shades, as seaweeds of pre-Raphaelite Ophelias.


The last work created in his New York study by Nam Yune Paik, Om-mah (Mother), is a melancholy memory of his Korean roots. A traditional Korean dress of subtle orangish glazes is suspended in the space in front of a TV monitor in which some kids play and dance. Chema Gil’s images, in which there are also suspended gowns, have that melancholy, too, but with less romantic mists and a gloomier surrealism echoing secret desires. His echoes are of brides dressed by Bellmer of Cindy Sherman, rather than of Mother Earth. He creates a universe in his images where he tells us the beginning and the end of a story, or the two faces of one same story, or the two vital principles. Paik would be playing with Tao, the principle generating all things, and Chema Gil with the Yin-Yang, the opposed complementing forces, the two basic principles of Eastern philosophy.


In one of his installations, Paik, using his hair as a paintbrush, traces with indian ink a long black trail on a white roll of paper spread on the floor. The stroke of that line, containing all the mysterious signs of Eastern writing, is a breach that allows us to enter into another reality. In Morua’s works, that black line is a gorge in a magical landscape that, just like the open wounds in Fontana’s canvases, allows us to penetrate into what is beyond the mirror. Abstraction, an absence of tales, is turned into a passageway for reflection on the images of the world. Pablo Palazuelo’s mathematical abstraction admits having the secret of vacuum through eastern philosophy. In Morua’s abstraction, with a more violent brushstroke, a de-materialisation of landscape also alludes to a neutral, embryional matter, to primal energy magma from which the whole Universe springs. His canvasses are a fault, a defile, a fissure through which lava oozes.


Nam June Paik has a powerful sculpture, More Logias less Loggins, in which a tree, a giant maple, built with television screens, loudspeakers and antique radios, and covered with cables evoking the lianas of a technological forest, tries to recall the old world, where there were still trees. In Ramón Moral-Abad’s works, there is a geometrical abstraction of woods. Buried by the essential forms of nature, spheres, squares, in which textures, wood grains, are powerfully striking as the memory of the trees that once were, they sketch those old woods of maples, poplars, black poplars, fir trees covering Korean mountains, like dream landscapes among the mists of deep-waters lakes and full-moon nights.


At the turn of the century, and after a near fatal stroke in which a part of his life crossed the Styx, Nan June Paik started to work with the laser ray. In his installations and sculptures with laser, he interacts with nature, with the architectonic space, and with light, in order to generate new sensations in space, altering it in a very subtle way. For him, the laser has a new mystic, provoking psychological effects on the viewer; it has a connection with spiritual world. It is an extension of video art, but one that, paradoxically, cannot be shown by TV.


In Pepe Buitrago’s works, the laser is also present. It is part of the diptych series Tones of Voice. By using indian ink, watercolours and holography, they are turned into the painstakingly worked illustrations of a Book of Hours, of a miniature codex. On one hand we have the text, mostly crossed out, letting us read just some words. On the other, we have the holographic image, the laser, pursuing the full reproduction, in its three dimensions, of the represented objects. Buitrago draws carefully the strokes crossing out the words, suggesting a quality of Eastern ideograms. Korean writing is a synthesis between pictograms and phonetic symbols, as it is hybrid writing, too — the one generated between the empty line and the saved word. In these works, signs and images are mixed that appeal to the knowing gaze of the viewer, generating holistic images of the represented reality, although this does not agree with today’s codes of world representation.



When it comes to contemplating images, Koreans and Spaniards are not different in their expectations anymore. Gauguin discovered that in the dream islands, it was not possible to cleanse one’s way of looking either, since wherever you travel to, what one has seen before, and everything we have already seen, has made us hybrid creatures.


When with his highly sensitive spirit Marcel Proust tried to recover lost time, he knew that nature can be perceived in different manners: It is not just the physical world that is different from the way we see it — any reality might well be as dissimilar from what we believe to be directly perceiving, as the trees, the sun and the sky would be if they were watched by beings provided with eyes differently constituted from ours, or having for this task organs other than eyes that rendered different, non visual, equivalents of the trees, the sky and the sun.


The East and the West have just our eyes to contemplate the world, and the eyes with which we perceive the trees, the sky and the sun are all equally made up, but the sediment deposited by time ended up building landscapes that were differently contemplated. Now, those eyes are still seeing from an identical interior fire, both gazes have been mixed into a single one, and in the landscape we are contemplating dwell the same sea-dragons.



Carmen Dalmau

Madrid, June 2007

Nam June





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