강유림 Kang Y.R 1 페이지

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Confronting the presence of modern women in art

GalleryGrimson Sun-young Shim

The presence of women in the history of art has been under the restrictions of society and its systems. Women in art still have restrictions from the past where the formal structure of anatomy was emphasized, and in the present where diversity is found in new social structures. Also, a work relating to an issue of women is often classified as a feminist work even though the appearance of women does not always mean that a work focuses on a subject of feminism. Of course, women in art works reflect the artists’ psychological condition and environment under the influence of politics, the economy, religion, and the laws of their time. The appearance of women in art represents the action of reflecting the change and flow of time in its intimate relationship with artists. Like in the saying, “Art reflects life, and life is within art,” the range of what art can embody is endless. Aesthetic experiences in art give an opportunity for enjoyment beyond human rationality and sensibility. We can encounter a true moment of empathy with a woman in an artwork, and have an ideal experience of her. Although the point of view is from one’s own independent state, an artwork itself already offers a place where artists and audiences share feelings.

The main subject of Yoo-lim Kang’s work is about women. The artist has always painted about women. Women in her work do not just emphasize the beauty of women but attempt to deliver a message of how women should survive their fate and reality. The key point that shows it is their facial expression. In a facial expression, diverse feelings are hidden. In modern society, there are many times that we have to pretend. Thus, a facial expression means a strategy to survive in life with modern men who do not have freedom to express feelings. A child’s honest feelings are gradually restricted as he gets older. Women in the artist’s painting also do not easily express their feelings. However, hidden feelings are indirectly revealed through their eyes and backgrounds. Bamboos, texts (in Chinese), flowers with birds, and the landscape in the background represent modern women’s encounter with the past. By doing so, the artist attempts to examine the crossing point between the status of today’s women and the social system and social roles of the past. The institutional restriction of the past has not been changed a lot, but the artist chose not to send modern women back to the past, but rather to contemplate the past in order to look more deeply at today. Although modern society works hard to protect the rights of women, the institutional principle is still imperfect. Women in the artist’s work represent how they deal with this situation emotionally. They can hope to escape from the past, stay there to examine themselves, or encounter their new image by leaving the past. The act of seeing is a silent resistance toward modern society and a will to be independent. Their eyes sometimes become faint and sometimes stare somewhere to start a conversation with audiences. This conversation is a rest and a place for them to find peace. This is because the fierce life of women in modern society adds burdens and weights onto them. The artist talks about how this has been since a couple of hundred years ago; how women have fought to find the value of life in their own way, and how they have managed to have an alternative way of life through images that suggest women from modern and past times. There is also a meaning in her emphasis in naturalism. In the background of Shin Saimdang’s calligraphy a modern woman represents a woman of the past while a modern woman within Shin Saimdang’s painting attempts to bring out the past but also - essentially - seeks for a psychological concept and idea. The acts of women in the past were their maximum defense and the will to live, which coped with a critical viewpoint and, at the same time, attempted to overcome it. The artist offers an aesthetic rest to modern women who experience unstable confusion from the essential changes by making homage to the expression of women’s will in the past.

The women in the artist’s work are young. This is because young women have a mature ego but at the same time undergo change with uncertainty. They are not prepared but their emotions change repeatedly. Thus, they spend great amount of time on their agony over their life in order to live in this rough world. The artist attempts to make an ontological question on life with those young women. Conflicts and desires that women encounter in endless competitive society are not just about them but also us. What do we live for? How should we live? What do we need to live today? The answers to those questions have to be found from understanding the essential, so the artist attempts to search in her own past. This process not only provides an ideal way of thinking but also confirms the power and spirit to confront life, which modern women have to have as an ideological consideration and concept. The eyes of women with uncountable feelings show a will to go forward to the true world rather than stay in a pretend world with splendid colors. The artist offers an opportunity to look at the past and present ‘me’ as a process of healing. Because the artist also confronts the present as a woman, the point of view is the same.  To a woman a bamboo grove around dawn in the artist’s work embodies holy determination with a new light. We do not know the face of the woman. Yet we can imagine her calmness and her will to confront adversity in this confused world. The artist continuously has a conversation and communicates with women in her work in order to find a way to live in the present with them.