Whether painting in myriad shades of beige or pale blue, Chung Sang-Hwa’s rip-and-fill paintings vibrate with a quiet organic energy, captured though the labor intensive process that requires micro decisions made on the scale of centimeters and millimeters in order to produce each unique, balanced work. In this exceptionally complex piece, Chung has employed innumerable shades of pale blue to create a geometric composition of diagonal stripes. Though the overall pattern seems straightforward, upon examining the work in closer detail it becomes apparent that there are additional grids forming the underlying structure of the work, and that the color distinctions are not a clear as they might initially appear.
The lack of figurative content in Chung’s works and their emphasis on color, texture and physical presence has encouraged comparisons with Minimalist Art, which emerged in New York in the early 1960s as a reaction to the perceived excesses of Abstract Expressionism. However, Korea’s dansaekhwa (“Monochrome Painting”) movement – of which Chung is a seminal member – evolved to embody different philosophies, instead drawing much of its foundational inspiration from East Asian artistic practices. Rather than using industrial materials like their American counterparts, many dansaekhwa artists work exclusively with tactile, organic materials that require an artisan’s skill to manipulate. Imperfection is embraced, and the artistic process is regarded with equal importance to the final work.
Chung Sang-Hwa’s process-oriented practice highlights the power that simple materials can possess, especially when stripped down to its purest aesthetic form. This work invites detailed examination and deep contemplation, encouraging the viewer to reflect upon the time and labor that went into the production of this piece.