Chatty hands, soft eyes
Soo-mee KANG
-Yoo Seung Ho's word-representation and Painting's body

“eong enog~ I have no more tears to cry”, “where should I go now”, “Pleases return my life”, “Let my neck go”, “I don’t like white wall”, “Forget the subject”, “eong gum eong gum”, “woo soo soo soo…”, “shoooo-”, “u zi zi zick”, “eoheung”, yodeleheeyoo!”, “bzzzz-”, “moong sil moong sil”

The special ability we hold is an ability to communicate what our mind feels and what our body feels through ‘language’. The limitation of our ability to communicate vi such ‘medium’ sometimes makes us sad and lonely. It is because language don’t always express our feelings and thoughts as it is. For instance, What I quoted the Yoo seung ho’s Words on the top are understandable but we can never assume the emotional state of the writer, the state of the object the artist was feeling or even the actual expression he was trying to express. It is because there is a gap between what the mind is feeling and what language can express, or there is a gap between the physical experience and the language. And the gap may not be filled. Maybe that is why we should surrender vague image of art or awkward gestures in this era of digital technology. Or, maybe that is we are obsessing with more physical, direct and old way of expressing ourselves because we are living our lives surrounded by immaterial high-tech mediums. Can modern art close the gap between perceptions and expressions? Is he trying to close the gap by deconstructing ready-made images or shaping images?

There is a painting titled "a sheep with a wrabbit mask"(1997)(ill.1,2). Pink background and uneven lines drawn with colorful dots may seem like a scribble and the title is as awkward as the painting itself. Bear in The methodology and the subject he is stressing reside in this piece, and they are clearly suggesting his expressions, not vaguely. The subject (not methodology), in my opinion, is ‘trans-positioning languages and identification of images’. In other words, he is trying to paint ‘how to paint’, rather than ‘what to paint’. In the same sense, he is playing with meanings and functions of ‘alphabets’ and ‘images’. He would juxtapose or dissolve those things in his paintings and fixes the fun and tension on the surface. This is the methodology of Yoo seung ho. Coming back to "a sheep …", what we should pay attention to is not about its funny title, scribbles, sexual colors or any other small details. The important thing is that all those small details are creating traces that are representations of the artist’s thoughts. If you pay attention to the painting, you can see that the shape or rabbit and the word “sheep(양)” is overlapping and alphabet “ㅇ” of “sheep” is overlapping with a half of the rabbit face. Also, it is clarified with arrows pointing to definite words in the painting. The painting is complete with images and words. The overlapping images are reported with connecting traces. That is why we can recognize and share the feelings of the painting, despite the fact that we do not understand.

Within or outside of art history, paintings have always been created and there are countless numbers of paintings by different artists. It seems it is almost impossible to see, feel, understand and speak of paintings. But when an artist is charging towards an empty canvas, or when we see the paintings as audiences. What we end up facing is a body of a painting’ His paintings are reflections of languages and images which we consider as communicative mediums and virtual imitations. If we pay a great deal of attention to the painting, we may realize that recognitions and languages are actually interwoven. "A woman I" by W. De kooning from page 69 of Abstract Expressionism by Charles Harrison shows a woman with eyes wide open and open mouth. Another image I have in mind is a painting that is crated in Seoul, East Asia. The painting shows an image of characters ‘으-씨(eu-ssi)’ forming a shape of a woman. The language vested life to it but the body never stopped to exist as an image. I was dizzy with their overpowering bodies when I saw "으-씨" 2002-2003 and when I saw "A woman I" a decade ago. "으-씨"(2002-2003)(ill.3) is a duplicated image of "A woman I" by DE Kooning. If De Koonig’s work is more of a whipping image, the word reminds you of countless variations of painting . The body presented on the canvas is a body that not only you can see but also hear. You can visually recognize the shape to ne a woman and at the same time, you can imagine that she will be exposing her teeth by becomes one here, and the space provided in the painting becomes a hybrid space. Seeing and understanding becomes one here, and the space becomes a third space that takes hearing and seeing to another place. It can be defined as ‘sensual space where seeing and hearing co-exist’.

In my opinion, Yoo seung ho’s potential is as follows. There are countless amounts of expressions, enjoyments, fun and humors in the reality. With what mediums do we experience them through? What are the limits and applications of the mediums? And how do we experience them? The possibilities he is suggesting seem to be languages and forms. M Foucault analyzed the fundament of western paintings sine 15th century to be “separation of definite languages from duplication of forms”. The systems do not alternate or dissolve with each other but they form a dependent relationship. Either text will restrain the image or the image will restrain the text. One very important thing we must consider about Yoo seung ho’s work is that “sings of languages and visual representation is not provided instantly. It is systemized in a way of the image becoming a discussion or vice versa”. Visual images and languages may have been represented but the rules and definition of discussion and images did not become diluted. Foucault defines that P. klee destroyed this absolute fundament. As Foucault defined, I agree that Klee made it possible for his works to “intersect representation of forms via duplication and orders made with signs” 2), but I believe that they are imaginable rather than legible. In the other hands, Yoo seung ho concludes that text and image as a body and intentionally misinterprets them. He plays with an idea that languages established since the time of Babel Tower and their systems do not exist. He interprets images as texts and he includes texts in the place where images originally belong. Systems of languages/forms and texts/images do not originally exist but we tend to regard them separately and pre-determine them separately. But just like two facing mirrors reflecting each other, forms and languages reside in each other. I am not sure if he saw through co-relation between languages and forms but as you can see from "으-씨(eu-ssi)", he produces images with multiple meanings by interpreting texts into images. If I may, he is literally “a reader as a producer” as R. Barthes defined.3) (and in order to understand Yoo seung ho , we must become ‘a reader of visual image-texts’.)

Yoo seung ho’s visual texts do not speak out easily. Also, the image in the painting do not distribute meanings in the within the concept of meditation of appreciation. His painting from afar is a mere monochrome drawing or a congested form. But when we approach the painting to see the title of the painting and when we realize the title and see the details of the painting, we can experience a sentence repeating in our heads and see a new image in our heads. For example, "으이구 무서워라 (oh so scary)" fills up our heads with the sentence even if we try to reject it. This is the moment when seemingly ideographic images become phonetic texts and silent lines loudly scatter away to provide us an ecstatic experience. "쉬-(She-[an onomatopoeic of peeing sound])"(2002)(ill.4) is an image of a boy peeing but when we approach the painting, we can realize that the boy was granted his body from ‘she’. It is a he peeing written with a word ‘she’.(ill5) F. Stella claimed that “what you see is what you see”. This phrase is commonly quoted to describe modernism based on formal aesthetics. Substances are applied by or for the mind and the mind is strengthened. Languages are still suppressing images. It seem as if Yoo seung ho is saying that ‘what you read is what you see’. But at the same time he also seems to be saying that’ languages and images are not the limited to be read and seen’. They are all reflecting each other and mingling with each other. Let’s enjoy the moment when the images and languages are overlapping with each other. But there will be certain emptiness within the activity. Languages will never be able to perfectly explain the image and image will not supplement languages. It is because you will only find traces of interactions and imaginations. Let us be satisfied with the experience of tracing back to the artist’s inner thoughts and intentions.