HAN MOOK: FOR ANOTHER POETRY-ORDER at Seoul Museum of Art

한묵 韓黙

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HAN MOOK: FOR ANOTHER POETRY-ORDER at Seoul Museum of Art

A pioneer of Korean abstract painting, Han Mook (1914-2016) made remarkable achievements in geometric abstraction and left a significant legacy in the history of Korean art. Han was born in Seoul, studied Western painting in Manchuria and Japan. After Han quit the position as an art professor, he moved to Paris, France in 1961 to pursue his experimental spirit and unique independent practice.

Han devoted his life to the creation of unique figurative language introspecting space-times and the root of life on the base of ideas derived from Eastern and Western philosophies. His painting is characterised by an exquisite fusion of brilliant primary colours and meticulous geometrical composition. He captured the infinite circulation of the cosmic energy in his canvas and constructed the futuristic space, boundlessly expanding and resonating out of the plane-surface. Such work reflects the manifestation of the artistic view, which seeks to express the truth of the invisible order and vitality behind phenomena, through fine art elements of the colour, line and form.

In this exhibition consists of into five chapters with an epilogue. Those are ‘section 1 The Seoul Period: From Figurative to Abstract’, ‘Section 2 The Paris Period 1: From Colour to Geometry’, ‘Section 3 The Paris Period 2: Dynamic space capturing Time’, ‘Section 4 The Paris Period 3: Mastering the Futuristic space’, ‘Section 5 The Paris Period 4: A Pioneer in the Pursuit of the Root of Life’, and Epilogue: “Here I go, with a smile and a brush”.

Han eliminated the form of the subject in his work and sought for the essence of beauty devoting himself to the [ure abstract and the flat composition. Han desired to freely compose the way one senses and feels the surface completely devoid of the subject, only through the colour, line and form.

From the late 1960s, Han applied the rationale in analysing the composition space of his paintings, and his work transformed, becoming charged with strictly restrained geometrical elements such as vertical and diagonal lines. The works produced in the latter half of this period become an important basis for the geometrical abstract works with dynamic spaces completed in the late 1980s.

Apollo 11’s landing on the moon in 1969 became an event that played a decisive role in changing Han’s art world. He saw the power that reached the moon as the greatest human courage to conquer the unknown world, as well as a manifestation of highly sophisticated science.

Since then, the artist began to explore the fourth-dimensional space which combines time and space and to search the dynamic space that contained speed. He began creating copper-plate prints. From this, he took off from the horizontal and vertical concepts and introduced centripetal and centrifugal forces, for which he started using the compass and ruler, and attempted at strictly calculating dynamic space composition. According to his experimentations, he expanded into spirals to express the concept of temporal continuity, combined and intersected with radial lines. A unique methodology through the print media, which he applied to his canvases and developed a new painterly world of intense colours and geometric lines.

Han expanded the idea of living in reality as an open organic concept of cosmic space and termed it `futuristic space`. Based on such reasoning, he explored the uniqueness of visual art that can reach perfection only through the formative elements of colour and line. The rhythm in Han`s work, constructed through the intersection and expansion of geometric figures and colours that are charged with a lyrical sensibility, expanded the flat surface of painting outside of the canvas.

In addition, to the geometric abstract paintings, Han produced works that transcend the figurative/abstract classification in the late 1980s. Works grounded in Eastern colours and philosophy also started to emerge in this period, as the artist`s interest deepened, from the universe to human, and to the secret behind birth.

Hans works from the 1980s to his final years are characterised by the use of ink and paper collage. When he began to grind the ink stick and write in calligraphy again, reflected on Eastern thoughts such as that of Lao-tzu, and expanded his interest from the cosmic space to the human problem.

A portrait of ‘HAN MOOK’