Jan Kossen

Contemporary Art Gallery


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Artists Statement

Based on the traditional ink painting concept, I try to express ‘Tao’ through the ink on paper. Tao is the fundamental principle of the universe. Is there anything unchangeable in the world? I believe that the process which is constantly created and dissipated -the circulation structure of existence and non-existence itself- is the only truth that will never change. I believe the universe also exists in this structure, so another universe may have existed before the Big Bang occurred in the beginning. The current universe is considered to be the one that was born again after all energy of the previous one was condensed while it was dying out. Both the first universe and the universe after the Big Bang went through a simultaneous process of creation and extinction, and this process occur eternally. We can easily symbolize this unlimited repetition of creation and extinction as ‘∞’, and the layered point in the center of the sign(the crossing point) is the same point of creation and extinction. One of the circles means the universe that is going from creation to extinction, and the other circle is the universe that is created again from the extinction. In short, the circulation of existence and non-existence -the unlimited circulation- is the universe and Tao.
The ink painting painters in the past fulfilled their art spirit by expressing that human beings in the permanent stance would get real freedom by being united into one with Tao, regardless of superficial distinction or change in reality. Ink painting is the field that is trying to approach to the peak of Tao itself through these process. I worked on this painting with a stance of the essential aspects of the traditional ink painting. I did not use the traditional techniques for this work, though. Since I burned a toothpick and match on the wood block, it differs from the traditional way of using paper. At first, I sketched the mountain on the wood block using a drawing pad of mountain sketches, and then made a hole by using a drill. I stuck a toothpick and match in this hole. Finally I completed the work by burning these sticks in the wood block. In the middle of the working process, I tried to get rid of the existing image by light burns. Even though I burn and remove some part of the work, it does not mean that the painting itself disappeared. The accidental effect of soot during its burning results in a rebirth of new image. The trace of soot is the evidence that there was something before the present state of things. I suppose the present state of everything is traces of something. We are standing over the traces, and making new traces through the old one, so the trace for me is the past and also the progressive form of the future. Traces found in the work show both sides of these images. The process of creation and extinction of image demonstrates the universe structure in Tao. In the painting, I tried to show the point of intersection(the crossing point) of ∞. Consequently, I used different techniques from the traditional ink-painting skill, but the essential aspect has the same context of the traditional concept. You can also see this traditional context in the landscape which is an image of this picture.

The material, mountains, is the most painted in the traditional ink-painting. Why is that?
Mountains stay there all the time, but they do not stop changing. Especially, in case of Korean mountains, there are clear distinctions between the four seasons. That’s why mountains keep changing colors at each season. Shortly, a mountain puts the process of creation and extinction into practice by itself. A mountain itself is the most appropriate one for the universe’s fundamental structure since it naturally follows creation and extinction. Moreover, in the Oriental art, painters do not just observe a mountain when they draw it. They go to a mountain in person. After feeling the mountain physically and mentally and keeping it in their minds, they painted it from the heart. This attitude is one of the attempts to get closer to Tao by being united with nature. Thus, ink-painting is the art field through which utopia is added to Tao of mountains.
We should consider the double-sidedness of creation and extinction as one, not separated, because that process is the most natural. When we are the one who is the most natural, we can be free from certain standards or thoughts.

Han Kyoungwon