The verb, ‘to paint’, always calls for an objective, what should be painted. Furthermore, the silent white canvas is all the time putting a sort of obsessive pressure on the painters who live by the act of painting. With the counter-factual urge to create something like original artworks, and with the painter himself showing uncertain gestures toward the anti-artistic reality, how could he be understood properly by others? How could he cultivate a new sensibility for the sake of future, coping with the artistic debts inherited from the so-called great canon? Isn’t the artist at once too serious to respond to the contemporary era in playful ways and too light to confront it by painful practice? For that reason, the canvas allowed to the artist who should be left as the only surplus human being is an impending existential medium through which we are able to realize what life is like.
Apparently, the works by Kwon O-Bong are just delineating lines, which stand for a pure possibility devoid of concrete objects. The lines look like regular and irregular, converging and diffusing. They cannot be defined and confined by any conceptualizations. They are just there on the canvas as what they are. As beings have been thrown into the world by chance, objects are broken off with both the ideal beyond the canvas and the heteronomy originated from the artist. They are just meaningless things on which no meaning could be put.
But as the technique of chance that Dada and Surrealism introduced to the art world to object to the modern type of rationality eventually failed to escape from the links of communication and reception called suggestion and association, it is impossible from the beginning for us to evade the signification taking place on the magnetic field of canvas. It could be said that there is no meaninglessness, but only the meaning named meaninglessness. The lines drawn by Kwon O-Bong are regarded as something like a certain reduction to such a meaningless pure state. For him, the act of painting, drawing lines on the canvas and applying paints on the canvas is the same as erasing the presence of the author existing on the pen’s nib in terms of production just like in Roland Bartes and, at the same time, as the deconstruction of the organic connection between images just like in Kurt Schwitters’ Merz in terms of its consequences. What Bartes and Schwitters share in common is the vivid confrontational consciousness to destroy all of established values and the willingness to put the meaninglessness into practice. In fact, isn’t the dialectics of historical advance vehicles run by this dynamics of confrontation?
Confrontation, however, takes place, when it considers its own counterpart as an absolute opponent. The positive act of breaking through something could only be successful after it has thoroughly reflected on it and as long as it remains in a certain position. Just like the drive to death due to the intense attachment to life, meaninglessness also arises from the thorough reconsideration of meaning. Hence, the authentic meaning that works by Kwon O-Bong provide for us could be found in the pathos that he wants to reveal; the artist, making every effort to be motivated by the ecstasy without oracle, declares that every work produced by himself is meaningless.
Jeon, hee jeong | CI-GONG GALLERY, Curator