approaches to traditional calligraphic ink-and-brush drawings, artists Lee Jung
and Hong Zhu An
synthesize Western abstraction and Asian inscription and poetry.
Though they share an interest in examining the formal underpinnings and
technical craftsmanship of this uniquely global approach to art-making, each
artist’s method is singular, emphasizing different facets of these traditions.
Hong unifies the
formalist approach of Western abstraction with the poetic, philosophical interest
of Asian ink drawing, yielding expressive, textural acrylic and ink
paintings-on-paper with delicate illumination. He uses staining and scumbling
to create rich, dense surfaces, while some works incorporate text elements,
such as in Autumn and Old Tales.
In them, language becomes part of the geologic strata of the image, as much as
his painterly marks. Hong’s work is inspired by nature, evident in both their
titles and imagery. Although nominally abstract, the paintings refer to rocks,
trees, clouds, and mud. These elements are reinforced by names such as Ice
Lake and Whispering Moon.
Other titles are as ineffable as Hong’s mark-making, referring to virtues like
serenity and balance.
“Brush” series, Lee expands on what the famous art critic Harold Rosenberg
dubbed Action Painting
the splashy, vibrant marks made with extra large sumi-e ink brushes. Working
from models he creates in his studio—of these brushes and their splattery
marks—Lee recreates the images, using oil paint on fine Korean paper in an
exquisite, photorealist style. In works such as Brush 1
and Brush 2
(both 2013), he is meticulous,
capturing the delicate bleed of ink soaked into paper, its spray across the
surface, and the tilt and shadow of his brush. He aims to encapsulate ink
drawing’s subtlety, vigor, its simultaneous formal excess and restraint.
Similar to artists like Franz Kline
, or the Japanese artist Kazuo
, the paintings celebrate a bodily
interaction with creation. But he also works to complicate that relationship
with his careful re-rendering, using exceptional technical skill to hide his
hand, while also exploring its direct connection to the artist’s medium.