10 Dec 2015 — 16 Jan 2016
Ha Sang Rim
drawing

Ha Sang Rim, who has displayed plant shapes on canvas using a “tape drawing” technique, will for the first time present her photography work which has been the foundation for her painting.

Every creature is born with a will to live. If there is any difference between a human and a plant, it is that a plant will not fight other species in order to have a “better” life, solely pursuing its own survival. Plants bend towards the sunlight. In bending branches, statoliths, which sediment at the lowest part of the cells, help those branches grow straight. Plants pursue the ideal position within their given environment. That is a peaceful and simultaneously desperate demeanour. It is a simple and lucid life. Metaphors for plants created by a human being make us reflect on this outlook on life.
Ha Sang Rim has been portraying the vitality of plants, through abstraction at the beginning, then with flower images, and most recently the shape of plant leaves. Her paintings plainly depict the shape of plants with simple yet clear colors and lines. But remember that this is a photography exhibition, not a painting show. Black and white photographs in 60 x 60cm size reveal her foundation in painting. It is a photography exhibition by the media used, but it is a drawing exhibition by its function. The artist also mentioned that this solo exhibition is closer to a drawing show. Her resolved decision not to put any individual work descriptions on the photographs tell us about the character of this exhibition.
Abstraction and flower images in her previous work were from her imagination, rather than reality, whereas Ha’s recent work depicting the shape of leaves has been created through photographic images collected by the artist. Here, photography plays an important role. The image of plants contained in the camera lens is transferred onto a canvas. Rather than segmenting a part of the image, the artist has the entire image on canvas. There are lines naturally dropped out in the process of the transfer, yet no line is artificially added. The painting of Ha Sang Rim is already determined when the camera’s shutter is pressed. A photograph by her is born to be a painting.
The photographs for painting reveal their focused purpose in the frame. They display leaves and stems of the plants in a lean and sharp manner. They are almost painfully clear and tactile to see. A plant leaf consists of an outer skin, the body, and veins. Veins extending like a net are passages through which to transport nutrition to a leaf, keeping the body green. It draws out nutrition from the roots and transports substances generated by photosynthesis to other organs in a plant. Veins are a lifeline for a plant. The shape of a leaf and the paths of veins are the result of being assimilated to their given environment. The bright green and tactility conveyed in Ha’s photography are credited to the shape of the leaves and the direction of the veins. The will to live and the character of a plant accumulated over time lead to a line, and the line is the true nature of life that Ha Sang Rim attempts to express. The photographs processed in black and white convey the artist’s message: observe the lines without being distracted by the green.
The artist Ha Sang Rim said that she does not know the exact names of the plants in the photographs, but knows where those photographs were taken. Because it is a landscape the artist physically experienced. And among the numerous landscapes, they are the ones that caught her eyes and stole her heart. It is a very existential world. It is a task to embrace the nature that the artist witnessed with a full faculty of senses, while avoiding botanical knowledge and aesthetic theories. An act of seeing reveals one’s intuition with regard to the external world. Intuition is the ability to understand something by just seeing it in person without going through the stages of association, speculation, and judgement. While the artist’s painting could be construed as the meaning of life translated in her artistic language as she realized it through the plants, her photography is perceived to be the first-hand product of her intuition. The artist did not say many things about her photography and the plants. After all, to see an exhibition is to be mentally prepared to confront photography all alone with a maximum level of senses and intuition.
 
Installation view