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Eunkyung Choi

Eunkyung Choi, Zaha museum


1970, Seoul, South Korea





The Shank of the Evening, 2010

Oil on canvas, 130 x 162cm

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Landscape or non-scape


  Paintings of Choi Eunkyung embed a weird mood, a kind of catalyst to evoke the spectators. It is not very different from the recent works of the outside world or when she painted the inside of the room in earlier times. These paintings are rooted in realistic tradition art which reproduces the scenes in front of the sight. In other words, it can be said that they revert to the practice of landscape paintings. However, this landscape has something out of the common.



  Her earlier works (a solo exhibition in 2001, two solo exhibitions in 2005) described the views of her rented room. They are problematic in many ways. Perhaps the artist steeped in inability to form a meaningful network, having difficulty in mutual divorce from the target to lose a sense of distance. This is some kind of situation that the target is not fixed to vibrate continuously, while the subject repeats projection and abstraction in chaos.

  The fruit of the working process according to the following logics would be the device and effects: to be a close-up of covering the body and eyes of the spectators by the target in these paintings; the target becomes flat and its surface is embossed; and the targets look tilted similarly or vibration is sensed from the screen.

  The key point of these paintings is to remind of the strata of a concrete reality. The artist as the subject of sensibility and recognition as well as of memory and emotion confronts with the screen. I sense an isolated entity, one being who is determined to hold up with painting in a rented room on the edge of this city. Also I feel the relics of memories accumulated in the entity and the glimpse of reality managed by the entity.



  These days Choi Eunkyung paints the external landscape, which has been for 3-4 years. A solo exhibition in 2007 after painting of the internal room introduced the works which drew the spaces inside a school. Since 2009, she has finally gone out to paint alleys although the focus is on the objects found there rather than the landscape of alleys. Now, she seriously draws the scenery outside of the world.

  To paint the scenery outside of the world after drawing the inside of a room is not very special. To the realist artists, this route often appears in a form of expanding the horizon of their sensibility and thinking in a natural way. However, there is quite a big gap between drawing the inside and the outside.



  The half of the external landscape paintings of the artist Choi are the rural scenes of Gwancheong-ri, Gobu-myeon, Jeongeup-si where her father lives after retiring to the country. The rest are the places related to her Seoul life, the daily scenes the outskirts such as Ssangmun-dong, Imun-dong and Miari. 

  These scenes could be divided into three types of ‘fantasy paintings,’ ‘irregular scenery,’ and ‘realistic scenery.’ It does not mean that her works are exactly fit in this framework. In reality, it is likely that these three directions are combined into one painting with different importance. 

  ‘Fantasy paintings’ are against landscape ones in some aspect. It seems right that this type of paintings is restructured, combining the scenes of dream, fantasy and memory. Its archetype is revealed in (2010) and Edge of the Eaves>(2010). The surface of paintings leads us to the afterimage of memory, dream and fantasy and emotional aural, making us participate in the narration of memory and circulation time.

  ‘Irregular scenery’ is a kind of consecutive works to the alley landscape in 2009. These paintings concentrate on the objects found there, not on the alley landscape, as already mentioned. The objects found are part of rock, a mass of rock exposed in alleys out of the blue. A mass of rock stuck in a corner of a building, stuck out under an embankment in alleys, or being stairs covered by cement. Heterogeneous objects produced by violent fusion.

  Works like (2010), (2010) and (2012) are the paintings of irregular scenery. As if playing a pictorial puzzle, ordinary daily scenes in them hide alien factors inside which are impossible to understand. The location of is nearby a collapsed erecting beam inside a stream. Pebbles scattered here and the flow of water in between them are filled with minute drawing lines disheveled as the form is dismantled. Georges Bataille (1897-1962) compared irregularity to spit. This is neither a clear form nor absence. It denies language and a form, and does not want anything independent newly. Thus daily and nondaily life, landscape and non-scape coexist, which has no stratagem.

  ‘Realistic scenery’ is the type of paintings pursued most recently. In these works, the artist tries to embrace the horizon of life as an individual who lives along with others, not as an isolated one. She pays attention to abandoned land, hidden spots. (2012) or (2012) reminds of being abandoned and hidden, thereby suggesting different non-scape or half landscape. Here the landscape fixes the viewpoint of some witness which cannot be passed by. And a kind of remorse or emotional rolling from the viewpoint billows. She is walking in this landscape now.



  The works of Choi Eunkyung facing the outside of the world seem to speed here and there in a wide open space. Her landscape suggests non-scape from all strata of memory, routine and social reality in each different mode, thereby guiding us to some open gap in time circulation, meeting an abyss in even routine, and hyping us up for the expectation of rolling. Is it too much to hope that this strange landscape of the artist, the exploration of a strange world would be intensified for full treatment?

Youngwook Lee (Art critic)


Embracing the Middle Ground

   With I see an image, I often find myself in doubt of the utility of writing. I know the incomprehensibility of images unsupported by a language is just a way of life, but when an image is leaning more toward emotions, sensation, or mood instead of a concept, I feel like I am fishing without a fishing rod. Choi Eunkyung's paintings contain strong non-verbal attributes that cannot be converted to language symbols. All of her paintings seem to have an object, but it is not explained or presented. In the paintings of Choi, the subject itself functions not as an object but as a mediator of a specific affect which is manifested by itself. As such, it would only be appropriate for me to trace the origins and grounds of the impressions her painting caused me rather than to analyze and dismantle her works.

   Over the period of nearly two decades, the subjects of Choi's paintings constantly changed. What started with insignificant objects such as mirrors and towels in a small bedroom, expanded to a school bathroom, an art studio, and alleys, evolving into true landscapes like rural suburban areas, urban outskirts, highways, and night sceneries. But there is something that does not change whether the subject is an object in a room or a landscape, which is that they are all a type of images. As much as all paintings pass through a filter known as the painter, the tendency or the interests of the painter is reflected on the outcome. In the case of Choi, however, the characteristics of a subjective landscape highlights the essence of her work that forms her unique identity, differentiating herself from other artists.

   The modifiers describing Choi's works- images, still life, and drawings that entrail a peculiar mood- all point to the same thing. Her paintings go beyond the painted object, containing inspiration of those who experienced the object. So if you are touched by Choi’s painting, it is because her emotion which passed through the object resonated with you, and you have a similar experience. The first thing to notice when emotion is visualized into an image is a sense of distance that the artist takes with the object. Although works vary, in general, there is a considerable degree of magnetization in all of the objects she paints. In other words, in Choi’s works, the painter and the object break away from the perspective relationship in which the subject-object is clearly separated. You could say Choi only paints “subjects she knows,” and this is because only the objects she encountered often in her life and knows well can be used as a means to pass on emotion and feelings.

   The object landscape which she drew in early 2000s had the closest distance with the subjects. Back then, the subjects of her paintings were “sceneries that always shine (on my life) even when I am not here” and “a self-portrait that looks so much more closer to a self-portrait.” The walls, mirror, and drainhole are the things that the artist had in her small bedroom in a suburb, which holds Choi’s daily struggle and the struggle with work. Here, Choi and the objects are distinguished but thought as one. Her works thereafter expand gradually to the outer world, but the “factuality reconstructed from my personal subcultures and memories” (Choi) remains unchanged. In the case of her Gwancheong-ri Series (2010), the most complex work of Choi’s, the social context of the ruins as the surplus of the modernization process is involved, but more than the criticizing against society, her focus lies on the bruising of the wounds of modern history. This was a strange nostalgia created by the personal history of Choi’s family woven together with the public history of Korean modern history. Her father, who lived in Seoul for 40 years, moved to the abandoned outskirts of a suburb “even worse than the far end of Seoul” (Choi). The complicated emotions Choi felt are expressed in a mixture of the past and present as well as of memories and reality. The temporary house with temporary provisions; abandoned land left to change its purpose, buildings still under construction, and uncluttered appliances and supplies represent the powerlessness, loneliness, loss, exclusiveness, snobbishness, not to mention the shabby life that must go on. Choi’s view here neither a resident nor a careless traveler but somewhere in between. Travelling between Gunsan, where her residency was, and Jeoneup, where her father's house was, Choi embraces the gruesome scenery she must have seen countlessly but without much attention. It is not my home but this ruins is the home of my family and the reality of postindustrial society, making this shabby waste land a part of my reality.

   The sceneries from Choi’s everyday life continues into her recent work, depicting the outskirts of the city where she lived (Ssangmun-dong and Suyu-ri). Scenes of a riverside and alleys of the city started in (2012), (2013), etc., and it is only since last year’s solo exhibition (2015), Choi actually began to focus on the city's sceneries. It is also around this time that night sceneries began to appear. Here too, the middle ground between a resident and a third party is maintained. Although the scenes were actually seen and experienced by Choi, the scenes depicted in (2015), (2015) and < A Night Walk 1> (2015) are rather common sceneries of urban and suburban areas, instead of being limited to particular time and space. A landscape under the blazing light without specific depiction is a scattered time and space well known to anyone living in the city. Whether it may be alcohol or fatigue that is blurring the mentality, the hazy space and time where the night and day are mixed together as if the reality realm overlaps with the realm of dream like the author says. Instead of the details, the reappearance disappears and emotions come to mind in the scenery where only the blurred chunks of light and colors are left. It will be an eulogy of the road, with a mixture of a plain daily life and little hope.

   “I cannot reproduce, but I cannot say that I cannot tell” (Choi). I cannot leave out Choi’s unique technique to express texture. The time it takes to complete her work is shown on her drawing method as well. The process of drying thinly, drying, drawing again, drying again, and repeating the process over and over is the best way to contain the embodied object, as well as a time to dissolve oneself again. It is interesting that among her paintings, her initial still series, the ones closest to the subject, have the most paint layers (and therefore takes the most time to paint), showing a consistency of content and form. – Mirror> (2003), like a glazed pottery by repeatedly coating the paint, is a prime example of her earliest works. Since then, the number of coats has been reduced down to three or four, and it is also at this time she set more distance from the subject. In her recent paintings, she would only coat over twice, perhaps reflecting her peaceful state of mind.

   On the other hand, afterimage, which is consistently shown in her works, is from several touch-ups using a thin brush. Rather than using a large brush, Choi prefers to paint several times with a thin brush The unique dry and fluffy feel that reminds me of pastels comes from a lot of light gray and a lot of short touch-ups. The brush stroking and spreading as if putting on makeup creates a unique tactile property. Here, too, Choi’s method of observing the object for a long time and painting with emotions is technically well-expressed. Perhaps the method of painting thinly and repeatedly with small strokes works for an artist who wants to paint something like weather instead of a concrete object to capture the traces permeated into the space. The tendency to delicately handle her works has continued from the beginning to present. From the early works – Mirror> of painting objects in her room and (2010) to her latest work , there is consistency. In the case of recent works in which the form has weakened and colors have been enhanced, the number of strokes is reduced, but hazy afterimage has been highlighted by touching upon the boundaries. In the (2015), the back alleys of the city are blurred under the street lights, and the dull, daytime scenery of (2015) rises like a haze under the immaculate pastel shades of pink, violet, and sky blue.

   The brushing on the object leaves the impression that it was not painted but knitted, which is impossible without careful and diligent brushing (one by one) and passion for the object. In that respect, I believe Choi’s works have gender specificity. Instead of confronting and overcoming the object, she approaches an object like a woman approaching a man, embracing him. All the sceneries she paints has the middle ground that crosses between objects and subjects; forms and backgrounds; reality and memories; inhabitants and travelers; and reproduction and emotion. These thin-image landscapes, wandering the suburbs of everyday life, give no directions. As “the strong passion of a poet’s heart stirs the hearts of others and the expression of the poem remains close to the souls like a good friend,” emotions within an object cause gentle water ripples in our hearts. This is perhaps the reason Choi looks into each object for a long time.

Moon Hyejin (Art critic)


An idiosyncratic achievement of road art A tribute to Choi Eunkyung’s 2015 solo exhibition

   Road art in the title is a term derived from the film genre called road movies. In English, road art usually refers to artistic work performed on the road, such as drawing or installing something on the road. However, I would like to use the term road art to focus on the life on the road as depicted by road movies, wherein the characters move from one place to another or travel, encountering various incidents and sceneries. Choi Eunkyung’s artistic world can be referred to as road art in this sense.

Choi is participating in the artist-in-residency program by the Art and Culture Space Yeoinsuk in Gunsan at present. Choi describes Gunsan Fictions, the archive works that she accomplished after roaming around the Gunsan area where she is living for the time being. In her work, she notes: “Gunsan Fictions is an archive of works on the (first) impression of Gunsan, in which I present drawings on scrap paper of the mind, wishing to console the troubled mind of someone who is neither a local resident nor a traveler and, at the same time, not to lose a certain point of orientation.”

Gunsan Fictions is a combination of over 100 smartphone images that Choi took in different corners of Gunsan and her note on each photo image. In the exhibition, Gunsan Fictions is displayed in two different ways; first in a slide show in the smallest room and second, in the form of a printed book. The archive works were also presented to visitors to the June-July exhibition, when they were accompanied by works on the walls created using charcoal and line tapes.

Gunsan Fictions is a chronotope of today’s Gunsan as projected onto the inner side of the artist who is ‘neither a local resident nor a traveler,’ as described by Choi, the artist in residence. Here, I am using the word chronotope in the same meaning as it was used by Bakhtin, a Russian literary theorist, as he wrote down the history of the genre of Western novel in a pioneering new way. So, it can be said that Choi kind of pioneered a new type of unique genre of road art, among numerous genres of works related to the local community that can be attempted by artists taking part in residency programs.

Contemporary images of Gunsan in Choi’s archive works and attached texts go beyond what’s simply physical and external. Gunsan’s chronotopic images that Choi collected reveal historical auras — or auras of the history of time and history of space — of different parts of Gunsan just as they are.

However, Choi doesn’t stop there, and goes further to project her own old artistic and personal motives and themes onto those images. If I may make a reverse expression, Choi can be said to be projecting the chronotopic images of today’s Gunsan onto her artistic inner space. I think what she described as ‘scrap paper of the mind’ in her work note is based on such circumstances. For some time, Choi, as an artist, has been living in Gunsan, but at the same time, Gunsan has been living in Choi during the same period.

In the exhibition held in November 2015, Choi showed us six pieces of her recent oil paintings. As it can be clearly seen from the iconic materials and titles, all six works deal with sceneries from the road. When compared with the sceneries of her work series from the early 2010, there are naturally similarities and differences.

First, all the titles contain such words as ‘Road,’ ‘Alley’ or ‘Walk’ Among them, four is about nocturnal views, with ‘Night’ appearing in their titles and ‘The Road Home’ being a common topic. This is contrary to the fact that her Gwancheong-ri series mostly dealt with daytime views and the objects inside the frames were often presented to have shadows. If I may argue only about the works displayed in this exhibition, while putting her unfinished works not present in the exhibition in parentheses, Choi seems to be painting the views of night streets these days.

Meanwhile, I think they all share representation techniques that I believe are and want to call Choi’s variation of sfumato and grisaille. They may be identified with sfumato and grisaille in the Renaissance period in classification, but they are unique in that they are presented in dark, unclear, flat, and plain shapes. Choi uses these techniques to show iconic shapes and objects in the frame to have indistinct outlines, leading them to be absorbed by the backgrounds.

If I may summon concepts from the text theory in linguistics, Choi intentionally blurs the distinction between Thema and Rhema. To borrow terms from systematic-functional grammar, she does not distinguish between topic and focus. Similarly, using the terminology of Gestalt psychology, it can be said that her paintings do not offer clear physical distinction between the ground and the figures.

When faced with her former works, usual viewers tended to feel that the shapes were obscure and their colors largely dull. Nevertheless, Renaissance artists developed and used totally different types of techniques such as geometrical perspective, aerial perspective, chiaroscuro, tenebrism and tonalismo, for division, separation, and distinction.

According to the artist’s explanation on the current exhibits, An Alley at Night 2 is a work in which she used, for the basic frame of its composition, the photograph of an alley in the residential area of Ssangmun-dong, Seoul, where she used to live. The Intersection at Night 2, in which yellow and red are used as main colors, draws a contrast with an undisclosed work of almost the same composition, in which the color of blue dominates. The Way Home represents the sceneries seen on her way back to Gunsan, and A Night Walk 1 was derived from the night view around the industrial complex there.

Both in terms of each work and the entire collection, Choi’s road art works shows highly unique expressive individuality that may be said to have reached the peak of pictorial free indirect discourse. As soon as one sees her works, any viewer can recognize her pictorial style, or in other words, pictorial fingerprint or DNA. This is one of Choi’s artistic virtues.

If I am asked to find the reference point of the current exhibits on night road views from her past works, I get unavoidably reminded of two works that the artist painted under the title of Fire in 2010. One is twice as big as the other From the two works, I could read her artistic passion rising like magma breaking through the crust of gloom, which is the emotional thoroughbass of her Gwancheongri series. Of course, it is different in the current exhibits that the night views are lit by artificial lighting.

In that sense, Road to the Outskirts, Ansan, with its texture appearing to have been covered by parchment paper or transluscent glass, is odd. Contrary to other works, it seems to show a daytime view, with relatively higher brightness and chroma than her past works and somewhat less blunt color arrangement. I think the work may present a certain turning point in the artistic passage of Choi, who is showing her experience of nomasidency through a very distinctive pictorial individuality in the contemporary Korean society and artistic circles. I coined the term ‘nomasidency’ for Choi, by putting together ‘nomas,’ the Greek root word for nomad, and ‘sidency,’ where I omitted the prefix ‘re’ from residency. Anyway, if I am a cleric, I want to give generous prayers of blessing on Choi’s road of nomasidency.


Lee Jae Hyeon (Culture critic)


A picture is to draw longing

1. Longing (concept)

  I have thought why the term of picture was used for picture. It is associated with painting and its origin of word is ‘scratch’. However, I feel like that a painting is vaguely associated with longing. There is no evidence, but I have a hunch (suspicion). The picture is represented after longing and plaintiveness get deeper. This picture must be good with imagination.
  "Currently, I am working on Gwancheon-Ri (Jeonbuk Jeongup Gobu-Myeon) which is the base of my father livelihood as a background. This is his hometown which he returned to after he finished his lives in Seoul for 40 years. But it is not the hometown of his mind and nostalgia of which he dreamed to console the place the loss in which dream and hope of his young ages thrown out as the frustration. It was already ruined and was the place full of fatigue of livelihood without any measures which was worse than in his livelihood in Seoul. My father built a house as a last resort and established livelihoods again as the base of his livelihood. The main contents of my works are to predict how we can move forwards at the edge of being failed, screwed and being forced out." – from an artist’s note ‘landscape of Gwancheong-Ri’.
  I felt our fathers and was convinced of attraction of art works of Choi Eunkyung which I vaguely understood through this artist’s note at the same time. It is the moment when I feel sense of kinship of lyricism and authenticity which stimulates nostalgia of the older generation which an artist talked about. The time when I looked at the picture of Choi Eunkyung, painter was around 2003. She mainly painted the interior landscape. Her art works are works with texts such as a mirror where ‘wish development’ was written, a towel with letter of ‘fortune’, a bath room with a frame of one body and one body (artist’s modification of Daily Renovation & Daily Renovation) and great success at the beginning of spring. The artist studied the flatness and alloverness of painting through this course. It is similar to the text which implies the contents of the art work, the relationship between disenchantmentand enchantment of 「Death of Mara」(1793) of David, a painter of classicism. A series of interior landscape work is in progress and interests of artist have been extended into outdoor landscape. Even though the expression of ‘extension’ is used, it seems right to say that it is a very private interest rather than a tremendous content. An artist wants to express the interest of contacting areas where a painter meets other people such as landscape of reality in which development was retarded, visualization of concept through study, storytelling painting and homage about barber shop picture.
  Here, ‘longing’ is referred to as the landscape which implies instinct to return to homeland in self-conscious or unconscious situation rather than a situation in which we can’t withstand to see it, familiar landscape placed in memories since childhood and landscape intended for interests of artist. Among them, it seems like that her recent artworks are focused on landscape intended for interests of artist. In a series of 「Gwancheong-Ri landscape, the path to Gobu」 in 2010~12, interests of artist are well presented. In 1960~70’s, due to urgent problems in living, the process of industrialization has changed the territory of Korea. Landscapes draw interests of artist are awkward landscape of unmatched cohabitation due to signs of hasty industrialization rather than harmoniously matched landscape with nature and man-made houses. Assembled warehouses which cannot be built in the city due to expensive land prices, lands scarified by improper development caused by cancellation of green belt and repulsion made by awkward combination without consideration of surrounding landscape get together to create outdoor landscape of Korea in 2012. Moreover, workers who gathered in factory zone in satellite city of Seoul and baby boomer generation are retired to form one axis of new workforce in rural areas.
  It is thought that awkward landscape consisting of a variety of causes draws interest of Choi Eunkyung. A painter has the strategy to maximizethe intentions included in a painting with several ways through process of conceptualization and contextualization after summarizing her interests and thought with text. These things can be advantages and disadvantages of paintings of Choi Eunkyung. Advantage is to detect various social phenomena and signs rather than the simple picture. Disadvantage is to prevent people from appreciating painting comfortably. This discomfort is the part that I feel. When looking at her art works after understanding her contents briefly, the visual pleasure comes first. Please keep it in mind that excessive meaning and strategic approach reduces visual formative beauty.
2. Painting (format)
  “When I paint a picture, I try to represent the outside and inside of the object. I also want to represent the beginning through the end or a sign of beginning. The driving force of my painting is to push the idea how can I represent to let people feel it as one compressed and abstract ‘Gyeol’ although it is content of specific narrative. This ‘Gyeol’ is such ‘emotion’ which cannot be reproduced but is like the totality which cannot summarize the specific reality which we cannot say that we don’t know. Anyway, it must be universal and contemporary ‘thing’. (in picture) it is not three-dimensional illusion but it may emerge unexpectedly like the form of weather. The thing to catch and hold it is the ‘painting’." – From artist’s note ‘painting’
  Not good painting was popular a few years ago. Those who were good at painting pretended to paint it bad and those who were not good at paining pretended to paint well. However, the best pictured was painted by those who were in the boundary of good painting and bad painting did their best. It is close to the blessings of God and there are a few features.
  1. The boundary of object and background is not clear, but rather the traces pile up and become clear on the boundary.
  2. Since decisiveness is lacking in a three-dimensional representatio, it is represented lightly.
  3. The contrast of the object is controlled by only light and shade of its unique color.
  4. Unconfident brushing may become the personality.
  5. As it has above four features, perspective is expressed and personality is represented in the color sense.
  6. Expressive techniques and color sense further bring out the concept and content of the art work.
  7. In final, afterimage remains as if it seems lacking and the after glow is felt.
  Nuance and expressive techniques further brings out the concept and content of the work. If it belongs to more than four items including Nos. 6 and 7 in above conditions, it is a good painting.
  I looked at files organizing paintings of Choi Eunkyung from 1998 to 2012. I discovered two features which were different from other painters. First, her paintings were steadily rising curve. Second, she continued to seek the difference within the same context. Upon looking at her indoor landscape in the early days, these were not good paintings, which was admited by the artist. I thought that it seemed far away from a good painting but it had something attractive. Through this process, she added text (letters) into the painting to reveal her intention, which showed the personality of Choi Eunkyung. Her habits to organize her own ideas onto the artist’s note play roles to fill the a gap in her paintings. These performances appeared inoutdoor landscape which she began painting from 2010. Several single appearance of urban outskirt landscape, situation by storytelling, descriptive painting and landscape about immigrant lives were shown in her own expressive ways.
  Obviously, there are many painters who are better than Choi Eunkyung. However, there are not may painters who has as attractive as Choi Eunkyung. So, I’m really curious. The picture which is painted well must be a good picture, but it is better even though it has more rooms to be improved. It does not make sense. So, it could be solution to find why only Choi Eunkyung exists even though there are many good painters. The reason is that lacking lingering imagery, afterimage, expressive techniques and color sense are sublimed into the sensibility of a painter. Although Choi Eunkyung may not intend, the answer is the naturally acquired sympathy while she paints picture for a long time. The emotion has emerged in her paintings as the framework of thought, sensibility and tips of hands are organically moving.

  I realized that the artist made efforts to give the shape to her concept and wrote well through interviews with artist and reviews on materials. Like "this is not a pipe" in 「rebellion of image」(1929), paintings of Choi Eunkyung were not "paintings which reproduced visible landscape". I feel uncomfortable on artists who systematically and truthfully represent his/her own concept with texts. To be honest with you, I don’t like him/her because she/he wrote well and I would cite the entire artist’s note since I couldn’t find other expressions. I have to broaden the width of understanding 2-3 times more than art works of Choi Eunkyung, which makes me confused due to capacity of my brain. Despite such as total disaster, I decide to learn the longing (essence) in her art works mainly focused on recent pictures since 2010.

  Currently, even though her paintings are good, the future of paintings of Choi Eunkyung is even more hopeful. Like the mine with a large amount of reserve, it is expected that her paintings which were gradually developed over 20 years will be more developed in the future. However, I would like to say one thing to her. The painting of Choi Eunkyung is just the phenomenon to be visually seen, which is not above or below that, even if it has excellent concept and reality which is not shown to others. The reason is that the world added into her paintings is our appearance which is fully emotional and plaintively as much as we miss, even if she glorifies beautiful scenery and positive reality.

Seong Jin Son (Soma Museum Curator)


The next month

   As the first exhibition of Ga gallery since it moved from Samgakji to Wonseo-dong, Choi Eunkyung’s solo exhibition was held at the gallery. On the map of the galleries located in Seoul, Ga gallery used to be isolated in Samgakji from other galleries. After its moving to Wonseo-dong, it seems that it has joined the cluster of art galleries of the near future. The surroundings around the gallery still have some traces of old Seoul. Sinimun-dong, which appeared in the work of Choi Eunkyung, is also one of the places that are excluded from the boisterous development districts of Seoul.

   Not only in the works displayed in this exhibition but also in other works, can we find sceneries of the outskirts of Seoul very often. Although the places she depicts are on the skirts of Seoul, her focus is not on the spatial characteristics of the places excluded from the center of Seoul but on their temporal aspects filled with numerous individuals’ memories. The 'marginality' she establishes in her works is not a process to defamiliarize the underdeveloped areas and transform them into objects for sightseeing. Rather, it is closer to a process in which the artist resurrects the histories of the areas forgotten during the period of ‘development for development’s sake’ and spatially reconstructs them. Her works are, therefore, antipodal to the photos of the old villages of Seoul posted on the blogs by the members of amateur photography and digital camera clubs. In her works, we can scarcely find outdoor scenes that are often seen in landscape paintings. Sometime indoor scenes are found in her works, yet the artist only uses a few colors and simple frames to depict the objects in them. However, there are too many evident traces of the real world in her works to be labeled as paintings depicting the internal states of the artist.

   Her landscape paintings are dry, empty, worn, and, most of all, flat. The tap, the outfall, and the toilet are completely dry. Neither in the room nor on the window nor at the entrance, there is no trace of human. The towel, the charm, and all sorts of 'Zzirashi(fliers)' are totally worn. The laws of perspective which is the key to spatial depth are most of all excluded. On occasions, spatial depth is observed in her works, yet it is allegorically materialized through reflective frames such as a mirror or a picture. The color of desultory everyday life is neatly finished like the surface of an enameled ceramic, and it conceals illusions and emphasizes flatness.

   Then, on the surface, her paintings can be considered as comments of a self-conscious painter on modernist painting. But Choi Eunkyung goes further. She makes an attempt to interpret modernism itself hidden in every nook and corner of the local sceneries. The texts such as ‘May you succeed, Get better all the time’ which make the painting much thinner, the objects such as leaflets, calendars, dried pollacks which make it lighter, and the extinguished stove and the empty spaces of the former National Intelligence Service building which make it look much colder are good examples. In this sense, her landscape paintings which lack not only landscape but also soundscape and bodyscape can be called as ‘contemporary' landscape paintings into which modern landscapes are condensed. Her paintings are some kind of temporal landscape paintings which are created by piling up the sections from heterogeneous places. Balzac once said that if you know how to dig up reality, it will be an endless mine to you. Similarly, if you know how to pile up, paintings will be too an endless mine to you.

   In this exhibition, Choi Eunkyung displayed a painting entitled ‘Corner’ on which the bolting of color is conspicuous. It means that, besides mirrors, window frames, doors, and paintings which have been seen often in her works, the grid of a new dimension has been introduced. We will be able to know in her next exhibition whether this corner becomes a shining corner that unfolds a new vision before our eyes. 

Baek, Jee-sook (Art critic)