About Yong-Ik Cho
Rising to prominence in the mid 60s following his studies at Seoul National University, Cho commenced by creating colourful abstract compositions before passing in the 70s to the Dansaekhwa rubric of expression. Not a movement in the strict sense of including a select number of artists tied to a manifesto, this period of artistic action championed repetition, meditation, and tranquility through placing the ‘act of making’ at the heart of creation. Translated into English as ‘monochrome painting’, Cho differentiated himself from other Dansaekhwa artists by permitting subtle hints of colour to grace his work, whilst maintaining true to the emphasis on natural, energetic materiality.
Following the period of political turmoil that pervaded Korea in the 50s, a need amongst several artists in the newly established South Korea emerged for reconnecting with their roots of the Chosun Dynasty; those sentiments and habits associated with Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Dansaekhwa provided an articulation for this resurgence, through its characteristic of ‘manipulating’ the materials of painting: pushing, painting, dragging it. All, however, without aggression; the effect was rather one of meditative catharsis, an aspect of art production that permits the exploration of soft objects, from rice paper to the pigments used, to the delicate canvas. Melding both pictorial articulation and a level of performance, the works convey a timeless, universal language whilst equally symbolising a ‘liberation’ from strict traditions of Korea’s artistic heritage.
South Korean, b. 1934, Bukcheong, Hamgyeongnam-do, based in Seoul, South Korea