Stephanie Seungmin Kim (Art Critic/Curator)
Patrick Modiano’s Nobel laureate novel, Missing Person (Rue des Boutiques Obscures) tells a story of a man known as “the beach man”: “This man had spent forty years of his life on beaches or by the sides of swimming pools, chatting pleasantly with summer visitors and rich idlers. He is to be seen, in his bathing costume, in the corners and backgrounds of thousands of holiday snaps, among groups of happy people, but no one knew his name and why he was there.” He exists in so many people’s mind like footprints in the sands, forming relationships with them, but the relationship only turns out to be a trace which can be washed away anytime like sand. “The beach man” is a metaphor for human existence, as well as the relationship remembered only as a trace. Kwon Ji An/Solbi called her new series “Trace.” it may be a story of the artist who just begins to love herself. She begins to concentrate upon the trace of herself who fell in love with art, leaving from herself who existed in thousands of relationships.
Kwon explains the meaning of the “Trace” series like this: “Although there are many works and cases that exhaust the action itself to create a work of art, like Action Painting, my work begins with a trace and remains as a trace. I compose and write lyrics, my voice becomes a new instrument in music, and the song is recorded and left. And I design the choreography for it, which becomes an ‘action’ to be brought as a trace on the canvas. I left the course of these traces as a work of media art.”
However, what she really wanted to say is in her last words, like a footnote:
“But my true purpose is to draw out my world I have never known.”
Here, I would like to associate the series with the five stories in art history. All these five stories, or five fragments, have something in common with the series. They show how the actions of an artist who aimed to shed light into the unknown far deeper inside her have already existed in the agonies and attempts of many artists in the long history of fine art. They may be literally the fragments of the traces, or the streams that flow to a larger stream.
Before the advent of the age of the LP record, music passed away like a fleeting moment. The sound was not the kind that you could revive anytime only by pushing a button, people put music in painting to remember the moment. In many works of art, music, or the passing moment is conveyed through various musical instruments, the shape of singer’s mouths, the movement of dancers from which melodies and voices are just going to be head.
The medium in performance art is the artist’s body. When his body moves live, it gets to start the relationship between the performer and the four elements, such as time, space, body, and the audience. And performance art is plural. It can be a collaborative work which uses visual art, video, sound, a simple stage, or an object as props. And it meets more audience by being recorded.
Kwon’s works lack any lavish painting techniques and sometimes can appear to be childish. Perhaps she is backtracking to her lost times when she had to give up normal life. In fact Kwon’s paintings are very different to the public perception of her. Fragile and venerable heart can be felt from her subject or resonate from the brushstrokes. Francis Bacon left deep impression with his famous words:
“I chose distortion in order to tell the truth.” Maybe Kwon chose truth to tell the distortion.
The interview between Brian Eno, an inventor of ambient music and visual artist. and Grayson Perry lingers in my mind. Eno told that the difference between music and art lied in collaboration. While music can be repeated again and again, owned by anybody, reproduced in any way, and done by collaboration, visual art Is all about originality. In addition to this, Bacon left the meaningful remark that a work can be ‘art’ only by entering into the genealogy acknowledged by the museum.
The Turner Prize, a prestigious annual award in the UK, is awarded to the best artist of the year. Martin Creed’s Work No.227 is an empty room In the Tate Gallery in which the lights went on and off at 5 second intervals. Challenging the expected idea of time, space, and a work of art In the museum, Creed inspired the viewer to establish a new relationship with the space in a museum.
If this artist, who said she began to paint to love and protect herself, worked to show the public what they liked, she now works for herself. Kwon Jlan has freedom due to her unfamiliarity with the old conventions of the art market, invisible rules, etc. The courageous confession by Kwon Ji An-one asks: what would our trace be like, If we were to paint?