ften it is
said that western painting depicts human from while eastern painting depicts landscapes.
This assumption suggests that western painters paint for most part human figures while eastern painters concentrate on landscapes.
If one accepts this assumption then common sense - dicates that between the painter-couple of Shin
Dong-Kwon & Yang Sun-Hong, Shin should be painting human figures while his wife should be painting landscapes.
This is because Shin majored in western painting while Yang majored in eastern. However Shin paints landscapes and Yang paints
human being or flowers and birds.
urrently our era is one where is virtually no discrimination between the eastern and western schools of painting. And if one really looks back to the origins of painting would this not originally have proved to be true? The essential points which define painting include in the midst of beautiful landscapes outstanding human beings or heroic human in the midst of breathtaking scenery.
ccording to Kenneth Clark, landscape found its origins in the desire to paint paradise. Thus heroic figures in graceful landscapes was a fact not only in classic western painting, but also in estern painting. It is lmost un necessary to mention da Vinci's Mona Lisa, a painting of one ordinary woman set against a very serious landscape as a background as one example of this.
n fact it was only after the 17th century that landscape not merely as a stage for human activity or recordings of historical events appeared as separate genre. If one were to borrow Clark's expression, this type of geographical landscape which attempted to clearly show the earth even if it excluded or reduced in significance human figures still remaind part of the school which depicted an idealistic image of Paradise. We could support his contention by citing the landscape treated by Nicolas Poussin in his Four Seasons and the fac that this rendering is related to Milton's Paradise Lost. The landscapes of the Romantic ge are very similar, a depiction of a distant sea and harbor, a rising or setting sun, loftly rows of buildings extending on either side of the harbor and from a very low point of view one can see perhaps faintly human beings in a romantic scene. Even if the same as only landscape in the Romantic Age.
or the viewer it is sufficient that the painter paint a lonely plain, or luxurious forest and a rising or setting sun for in this depiction we can sense the shadow of go. It is obvious that one could find in Shin Dong Kwon's paintings these elements. there may be only a ound sun or moon, or even just simple a circle but the aura of their light leads us to a cosoc sublimity. The desolate spread of plain, sky and a lonely standing tree and forest are not the type of landscape one can easily encounter. Are there human beings that can make us feel the presence of god's shadow?
ne point that is also very obvious is that his landscapes lack a feeling of sensuality. The elements which define landscapes, sky, sun, plains, mountains are placed on the same surface level. Therfore n landscapes a seasonal meaning or special feeling does not exist. If one holds that creates the seasons(time) and earth(space) it is obvious that in Shin's landscapes the shadow of the gods has disappeared. Despite this something whichgiven an even strong feeling of god's shadow are the imaged of the case attempting to analze this an Romanticism would not be a wasted effort.
n fact if we look at Jacob van Ruysdael or Turner's landscapes the entire surface of the canvas covers about one-third of the area while the remainng open space is filled with the sea and the heavens. The shrinking of the earth suggests an escape from worldly things. The essential point is that the heavy silence of the sea, thick fogs and dense clouds draw out delicate emotions. As is found in Wordsworth's poetry nature at the same is both an expression of the absolute and the solemnity of an idealized slf. Through severe and minute dessin and sketches one bunch of flowers on leaf and even he sound of the breath of life is not lost. For them the object of their meeting included the sea, clouds ountains, plains, trees, leaves, insects, light and even air and their lively emotions are these things themselves.
et us examine Shin Dong Kwon's landscapes. Has he drawn nature? In his landscapes really how much earth is there for a human being to even make the effort to take a step? As we see in Flandre landscapes of Flandre, in Shin's paintings rather than the earth, the sky, sea and fog occupy much more space in the surface of the painting. In light of this, the painter's line of vision is not directed towards the earth but at much further and far away place. In fact a tree symbolizes his earth. The earth does exist but the fact that it exists is to prove the existnce of the tree. Therefore if there is only a small hill that is fine- it looks like the first steps in an unkown world. For example, if we see the image of the moon through a television screen, it does ot matter who steps upon it. The earth only serves to act as a backup for a tree or forest. In any event, we are not sure if those things are only in our heads or our hearts or even our dreams. It is from that point of view that there our those who say that his paings are of common nature. If we compare the natural landscape of the Buddhist heart of poet Han Yong Un, Shin Dong Kwon's landscape is not common landscape. Intead we are made to realize that he is heading towards a view of the absolute.
owever et us look at Shin Dong Kwon's tree. His trees have no expression. Of course a tree has roots, trunk, branches and leaves. In Shin's tree those things are not certain, His tree is like me looking at that tree and this proves that it is not a living, breathing tree. He is not drawing a tree, he just wants to indicate that like the sun or clouds and other special enites the tree is there. For this reason Shin's tree is not there in order to make other elements more visible- on the contrary those things have disappeared or have been omitted. If in Shin's paintings the leaves of his trees ecame very obvious and the tree was distinct from the earth, birds and beasts would be attracted to it. The fact is that in Shin Dong Kwon's paintings those things are omitted. One could say that the tree, he sun and wind together with clouds make one cosmic plan. As was true in mytholoical times with the giant whose eye saw a thousand ri, it is clear that the correct undestanding of Shin's landscapes art not a geographical "map" but as cosnic landscapes.
Art Critic / Prof. Park, Yong-Suk of Dongduk Women's University