Youn Myeung-Ro was internationally recognised as an abstract painter for his unique style by the early 1960s. His practice led him to create a series of abstract oil paintings on copper plates and wood boards that were filled with primitive tension with the tableaus mostly in dark greys, bright bluish-greens of oxidizing copper, and reds of iron-oxide. These fundamental and profound hues resulted in Youn’s unique “vague totemic or tattoo patterns” which demonstrate how the artist is deeply inspired by the supernaturality of ancient culture.
In the 1970s, with a series of works featuring “tortoise shell crack” shapes, Youn Myeung-Ro’s works began to reflect on the ontological realism in his painting. As seen in Crack 74-1014 (Lot 406), created in 1974, Youn integrated the philosophical roots of the “new international minimalism” and approached his canvas from a microcosmic level, continuing his interest in the physical nature of painting materials that already began in the 1960s. The artist disposed of figurative images or specific shapes from his tableau, leaving only the fissures of accumulated layers of acrylic white paint. Those fractured and exposed gaps became his means of elaborating on the painting itself. Youn Myeung-Ro used acrylics for their strong industrial feelings and textures, letting the paint pile up and become cracked after a natural process of gradual hardening; he allows surface gaps, grains, and mottled splotched of various depth to create abstract painting “lacking in significance.” This is not only the artist’s response to Western abstract painting but also his exploration of the Eastern concepts in abstract painting. Throughout this creative process, the artist is completely absorbed in his painting with an intense awareness of his subject and through the high concentration on the painting process itself; the artist and his painting become free from any limitations inherent in the subject and the painting reflects the core essence of matter and delight in form.
The Eastern concepts reappear on Youn’s canvas in his later works. The shift is apparent in the “Breathe” series from the start of the early 2000s. In one of the series, Homage to Gyeomjae M. 525 (Lot 405), Youn wields acrylics and oxidized powders on linen canvas in natural, smooth, and unhindered circumstances. From the early 2000s, his painting changed abruptly, including the clear manifestation of the shape of mountain in his works. In one respect, he borrows this shape to summon a return to nature, relying on the charm and appeal of traditional landscapes. In another respect, Youn’s image of the mountain originates from the mountain massif and is constantly changing—with light rain, morning fog, and the changing four seasons—from which he gains in an unencumbered space for exploration. Youn uses lines to create form of undulating hills, flowing ground water, and sheer cliffs in the depth of winter; the patchwork of coffee coloured brushstrokes successfully create a mood permeated with Eastern aesthetics. With his lines, Youn breathes with the universe and visualizes his spiritual pursuit in it. Youn continues to adopt the vitality of his medium and the persistent fluidity of colour and brushwork, allowing the tableau to pulsate in an eternal rhythm; emptiness and substantiality, the whole and the non, flat surface and a point of dispersal flood evenly into one work, one visual experience, and create a form in a formless space, enlarging the borders of limitlessness within form and enriching the visual experience of the viewer.