Kim Tae Jung
December 10 -December 27, 2002
Gallery Korea at the Korean Cultural Center New York
(460 Park Ave. 6th Floor, New York, NY 10022)
Kim Tae Jung
The Body and Soul of Calligraphy
Calligraphy evolved over 2000 years ago as a system of written ideograms combining elements of divination, ritual and moral authority. Its structure is understood to articulate patterns that correspond to the cosmic order of heaven and earth and yet each instance of calligraphy encompasses historical and social ideas as well as the personality of the calligrapher. The idea that calligraphy embodies exemplary conduct is connected to the rituals of political leaders that were recorded by priestly scribes. As calligraphy shifted from the public sphere toward the more personal realm of private expression connoisseurship valorized the particular eloquence and formal idiosyncrasies of individual calligraphers.
Kim Tae Jung refers to his work as a “return to nature” and over the past thirty years he has excavated calligraphy to engage the raw aesthetic force codified within traditional scholarly lineages of imitation and innovation. His performances, where he wields huge brushes over cloth laid on the floor, underscore the immediacy of calligraphy as inscription without correction, and energy made manifest in line. The resulting compositions dismantle the historical linkage between image and form through which pictorial and graphic elements are combined to represent abstract ideas. In place of cohesive structures the artist creates fluid fields of linear motion that rejuvenate the magical efficacy of primal imagery.
Calligraphy flows from an extraordinary convergence of body and mind and it is not surprising that Kim Tae Jung meditates before each performance. He thus possesses a clear mind to paint images that are without a predetermined meaning. That is to say his concern is not with what an image represents but with how it engages the imagination. In this way the viewer replaces the calligrapher in producing his or her own “images of mind.”