Yang, Dae Won - Long-standing Tears (2013.9.25 - 10.30)

Sep 11, 2014 7:17AM

Return To The New Monochrome Monologue

                                    Yi-Jeong Ban, Art Critic

Like Camouflage

In discussing the trajectory of Dae Won Yang’s artistic career, camouflage patterns inevitably dominate the conversation.  

Although actual camouflage motifs are very sparse in his work, these elements are nevertheless closely related to Yang’s aesthetic. For example, as we can see in (2002) and (2006), there are three elements that can be consistently found throughout his work.

It is this same consistency has served as a driving force behind his series of works: Anger, Camouflage, and Self-Sufficiency. Rather than mixing colors on a pallet before applying them to canvas, Yang paints solid colors in juxtaposition such that they maintain their original forms. Like camouflage patterns, his inner sensibility and anger are depicted indirectly and hidden somewhere on his canvas (imagine the Round Persons in his paintings which he calls Dongulin, a visual embodiment of the artist who remains hidden behind curtains and walls). 

His canvases are inscribed with monotonous colors masquerading as camouflage patterns. In fact, it often seems like his paintings show anger and aggression towards unknown things, such as soldier wearing camouflage uniforms. To whom does the Round Person, wearing a mask while holding a short knife, direct his anger? The answer to this question changes, depending on the circumstance. 

Sometimes it appears as though the artist is exploring socioeconomic inequality, or lamenting the peace-at-any price attitude held by mainstream artists. The Round Person in his paintings is reminiscent of an assassin and takes on the character of Yang’s natural alter ego. On the other hand, it may also represent the sole mediator between the artist and the world. 

About Recent Works (2011-2013)

Yang’s new works are a predictable result once one understands his focus on absolute moral value and self-sufficiency that lies at the core of his inner being. ‘Round Person’ characters, with their noisy demonstrations, have always exemplified his brand, along with vivid and straightforward statements. 

However, in his new works those characters are calm and restrained, presented in black monochrome. He has transformed the basic shapes countless times and expanded them on the canvas. Such aesthetic repetition is reminiscent of Piet Mondrian, who redefined the language of painting with repeated grids. What’s more, Yang’s new works also find resonance with Suprematism through their monotonous formative style. The teardrops, which look like variations of basic circular shapes, are placed in the forefront while the canvas has been changed to a rigid square shape. The messages and emotion of anger he previously voiced in his work, however, remain as traces of the past. 

Although Western Suprematism and Yang’s aesthetic derive from different origins, they have arrived at the same destination; the masked character and the Round Person have become minimized and teardrop elements have become conventionalized, while Yang’s aesthetic focus has changed to embody the principle of self-sufficiency and the labor inherent in the creation of a new painting.