24 Jul 2017 — 5 Aug 2017
Cho Kiseob

There is a black stone. The black stone revealing its dry surface to the blowing wind is in a deep color which seems to stop the flow of time, sucking up air around it. So I think it gives the picture a fairly weighty feeling unlike light that is reflected on the surface, weightlessly dissipating into the air. They are overlapped on top of each other throughout the painting area, or gather in a mass only to quietly disappear again into silvery waves when the water begins to rise up.
With Jeju Island’s scenery, Cho Kiseob portraits a landscape that reveals the artist’s psychology and way of thinking regarding the subject, as well as the locus of his uncanny sensibility over the subject. Even when he chose his restless city life over a life in nature, nature was the instrumental motive that revealed his psychology of the world; when he returned to a life that had a closer relationship with nature, nature had always been the medium that consoled his mind and gave thought to the world. While the landscapes produced from the mid to the late 2000s were about expressing the ghost images of landscape imprinted in his mind and memory through accumulating strong color and delicate brushworks, the onward landscape paintings that have been created since 2010 are gradually exercised in a manner that delivers the synesthetic senses acquired through the artist’s various bodily sensations in nature rather than being dependent upon memory.
The artist said that after he returned to Jeju, he spends more time with nature. This might sound so obvious, yet his experience of living away from home, during which the artist could only spend little time in nature, may have fundamentally changed the way he perceives nature when confronting it again. In contrary to the work in the past where he used to focus on expressing his visual cognition, the artist now seems to be opening all of his bodily sensations to nature with eyes closed in order to more proactively engage in it, recognizing the other side of the world which had been hidden underneath its outer appearance. As a process of sharpening up the senses throughout his body, the experience of residing within nature wholeheartedly made it possible to recognize the familiar objects in a different light beyond adequate expressions. And that laid the foundation for bringing tactile sensations detected beyond the realm of vision, such as differences in temperature by light and shadow, changes in temperature and humidity, intensity of wind, waves in the air, and resonance created by the colliding waves between objects, into the realm of a perception and thinking.

In this context, nature, in particular, light and wind have been a crucial element that evokes the artist’s visual and tactile senses about the subject in the work of Cho Kiseob. In the Sunset Wind series where the artist expressed the flaming sunset that touches one’s heart and the windblown tree at dusk based on the extended observation and communication the artist had with nature, as well as in his recent work that portrays various views of nature according to changing time using powdery pigments and silver powder, the both elements are two defining structures that constitute his eccentric style of painting.
In his previous work, he depicted images with a thin brush as if marking dots in transparent color, a reflection of the artist’s internal emotion, while reminiscing about Jeju. Those short strokes formed a group to visually represent the change of light in relation to time and the movement of wind, whereas his recent work with silver powdery pigments display the spontaneously changing views which naturally take place as the light reflection converges with the environment around the painting such as brightness and the flow of audiences.
Owing to the light reflection, the surface is so susceptible to the subtle movement of viewers that its color changes moment by moment in a delicate fashion and is entirely dependent upon the realm of vision. At the same time, it sublimely reveals the flow of wind reflected on the surface, thoroughly delivering its tactile sensations onto the painting.

These landscapes of Cho Kiseop indirectly expose nature, and in a broader sense, the way the artist relates himself to his surroundings, and how he contemplates on the world through it. Through the form of insects concealed within the image of vast nature, the artist addresses the life of coexistence well-balanced in the order of nature; expressed within the subtle waves across the abundant painting surface and the subtle, hardly detectable movements are the organic relationship between objects; through the forms changing according to variable light, his landscapes speak that the flow of time is the law of nature that is fair to all things.
On the shore, he jot down one of his passing thoughts, “when a cloud blocks the sun, a glowing stone wriggles in the darkness” for the landscape in which dark rocks emerge on the spot where waves had been. Perhaps, to someone, this is no more than an ordinary phenomenon of nature that can be observed in the passage of time. However, at least, to him, this is the perpetual law of nature and of cause and effect. This is the metaphorical remnant of thoughts with regard to all living things, as well as all things that exist but are invisible. What is evident is that since nature became so close to him within the distance in which the artist and nature could feel each other’s breath past the period of sole remembrance, it has continuously been sending invisible signal to him so that he continues to cultivate profound thoughts in a long term on the world beyond a mere representation of an object.

Jay Jungin Hwang (Curator, Project Space SARUBIA)
Somebody wishes, Bunchae(powdered color), silver power on Jangji paper, 116.5×91cm, 2014