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Title: Abstract painting and the aesthetics of moderation
Author: Lee, Kang-Wook
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 7121
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2015
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The journey of this research began with exploring the notion of invisible space which cannot be perceived by the human eye, and the process of image visualisation expressed through my abstract paintings, which is supported by my theoretical research. ‘Invisible Space’, the title of one of my recent paintings, evokes the notion of a very small space such as a cell or nerve tissues which form part of the human body and have the potential to simultaneously symbolise a cosmological space. In my practice, I adopt painting as a pertinent method to realise my subjects and motifs. I consider how my painting is situated in contemporary art theory and practice by exploring artists and writers relevant to my underlying concept. I explore how my subject is presented in painting and drawing, and how my research can be developed logically and systematically in response to my practice. In this report, I analyse the three key elements: 1) abstraction that explores macro & micro space; 2) colour experiments and 3) cultural traditions and gesture through Korean Monochrome painting. In the first section, I introduce two artists, Mark Francis and Terry Winters, who have inspired me. I researched these artists, their creative methods, and the critical debates which surround their work. I am interested in how they have developed abstract elements within their paintings which articulate their interest in scientific subject matter. For my creative practice, I experimented with abstract elements using a variety of mediums that I had not used in my previous practice in order to inculcate the possibilities of change in my work. In the second section, I present two theorists, John Gage and David Batchelor. I have undertaken an interpretation of their study of colour as a significant element of abstract painting forming my recent practice. The intention is to identify the possibilities of colour as a cultural and psychological visual requisite that provides insights and links between my painting and individual experience. My 4 experimentation has focused on how colour is represented in the aesthetics of Korean culture and art. In the third section, I focus on ‘gesture’ or ‘physical intention’ to be exposed directly by artists on the basis of Roland Barthes’s concept of ‘gesture’ in Cy Twombly’s works. I explain how this subject is explored in my recent practice, inspired by a Korean artist, Lee Ufan, whose approach and interpretation of this concept are very different from that of Western artists. I have experimented with repeated gestural actions in my new paintings which refer to Korean Monochrome painting, ‘Dansaekhwa’, demonstrated in a recent solo exhibition at the Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan in 2014. The core of my approach to the gestural concept is to investigate how my painting is connected with the Korean cultural tradition through ‘Dansaekhwa’ and raises the question of what is the nature of gesture as perceived from both an ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ perspective. As the repeated gestural actions of ‘Dansaekhwa’ have become the foundation of a new approach to my work, ‘Moderation’ in the title of this report has a critical meaning that implies my working processes. It signifies a form of reservation, a passionate yet slow and painstakingly intensive labouring process. I have called this controlled and restrained artistic intention ‘the aesthetics of moderation’, emphasising the ethics of restraint as shown in Korean culture and monochrome arts. This report aims to clarify the intention of my practice and deliver direction for my final exhibition to complete my doctoral study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Fine Art) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available