Is it true? Do you really see what your eyes see? And what about the hidden which you can’t see?
It is more than visual confusion, artists always likes to play with realness, illusion and imagination, those infinite ambiguous games of visuality. Sometimes we are so captivated in the games, forgetting that the messages beyond them are the real voice of the artists. Perhaps just like Laozi says, it’s mystery within mystery and the gate of all wondrous ways. The presentation of art is spontaneous, unrestricted of realistic or abstract forms; or one can put it this way, to be freely realistic may actually be more abstract.
Every eye sees differently. Take Mark Rothko, his color blocks are realistic, so realistic that he could transform the words that overflew the canvas into color structures of blurred margins. All is beyond words, no beginning, no end. Or, Chen Ching Liang’s pottery in the shapes of tree trunks or tofu. They look so real that they visually present a postmodernist confusion. Still, it’s clay from the ground after all, and it is the clay that eventually realizes the tree. Chen carves the tree trunks out of clay, and their primitive, timeworn looks are more solid as well as varied than real trees.
So, “To seek realness in illusion and to search for imagination in reality.” are no words of philosophers only. They are also ways in which artists express wonders and through which the audience create their own context of appreciation.
In Kim Tschang-yeul, it’s the perfectly round and clear waterdrops, which let illusive yet realistic existence captured the momentary eternity though it is fleeting.
And in Kim Tae-Ho’s works, it’s the space of complex colors and beehive-like shapes. It may look simple at first glance, but the complexity brings forth the fantastic imagination of visuality and the universe beyond borders and limits. It’s just like the journey of artists creating their work, piling up and carving out, one stroke after another. In between, it’s as if to add up so as to cut out, and cutting out is to demonstrate more beauty and sorrow of time.
As for Wang Pan-Youn, his solitude is never lonesome. The words with no lines, and the emotions with colors only, in his works Wang repeatedly—and silently so—painted simple colors to their core, turned them into lingering yearning and made it bleeding sun. All the words hidden inside Wang’s colors and shapes are for you to explore and interpret.
In Korean artist Bae Joon Sung’s images there’s even more visual confusion. When you thought it was a fully dressed lady appreciating the flowers in the alley, the moment you pass by, you see a naked woman in a room. What one sees may not be what actually is; take a step aside and a step further, and one realizes that it’s the visual magic making jokes to the eyes.
To Thukral&Tagra of India it’s the surrealistic portrayal of real life. Noisy, messy houses; TV, potted plants, flowers & leaves, purses, clothes, all the way to animals outdoors, radio noises and sounds of airplanes passing by. All the hustles and bustles. There are words within paintings, installations within decorations, and images within images. Here, the most ordinary life of the artists is reorganized into the most colorful, splendid wallpapers, expressing the extraordinary everyday life with excellent humor.
In Korean artist Kwon Ki-soo, the stories of his feelings are parables. They are constant sarcasm to himself, as no moment passes when Kwon is not with simple happiness. As long as there’s even ten strokes of hair, bright eyes and smiling cheeks, his Dongurri is the sunny colorful forest. It’s perfection, nonexistent yet being there; it’s Kwon’s delighted jokes with his own feelings.
To Choe U-Ram, the technological creatures from the ancient times to the future are the living dreams. The stainless steel, incorruptible bodies, so delicate and extravagant; in their uncanny body there’s a glowing heart, radiating soft lights; their gentle airy wings expand slowly. They look like bugs, yet they are not; one touch and they awake to talk to you with secret words, and another touch will put them to gentle sleep. Whether Organic or mechanical creatures, they are alive. “It’s real; as long as you are pure enough, you’ll see it,” so says Choe.
Kim Dong-Yoo’s Marilyn Monroe and J.F.K.; one is carved onto the other’s eyes, face and heart. He signifies people in objects and emotions; as he seeks illusions in realities, he actually embraces the real romanticism in the obscurity where reality and illusion intersect.
It is all just fun or tricks? reality or imagination? Artists all love to play with illusions in the realm of reality; or, they may be in the fascinating, bizarre world of the Internet, but enjoying the search for fantastic realness. No matter the characters in anime, myths, video games, AI robots, they are all imaginations projected from a discontent of reality. They all know how exciting and risky this longing is, yet they can’t help being drawn to the pursuit and challenges. All the anthropomorphizing, metaphorizing and life-mimicking; be they fragile or eternal; the works are efforts of the artists in search for a space of free expression aside from those imaginations.
And still, the future and its future seem so unreal beyond our reach, when it constantly awaits before us, mysteriously so. What we have to do is to explore, with our curiosity, march into its immensity, the dreamless world where all dreams come true. When the dream is life and is future, it’s also the most original and intuitive. So, dream or dreamless, illusional and real; which one do you favor more?