Adults make around 35,000 decisions in a day, Seong Cho has selected to savour, linger and absorb with detail and astuteness some of these decisions in moments of time that define her. These precious moments have inspired the artworks in her recent exhibition at the Art Space on The Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney.
Moment seized me, I seized the moment is an extensive collection of beautiful complex artworks reflecting the last two years of artistic achievement for Seong Cho. Her artworks pay homage to her Korean cultural background and acknowledge her Australian connection.
Seong Cho is gathering an international reputation with artworks in the Inkmaster International Print Biennale 2018 held in Cairns, Australia. A finalist for the Hida Takayama International Contemporary Woodblock-Prints Triennale 2017 in Japan, her artworks were also chosen in both 2017 and 2018 for the Annual Fremantle Print Award, the most prestigious print award in Australia. Contemplation oozes the strokes and markings of these wondrous works. Grappling with age and place, Seong’s memories of moments are mouldered and fashioned by tender and wistful painterly brushstrokes.
She uses handmade brushes formed from sticks and leaves that she collects on her walks of discovery in a variety of Australian environments. These brushes are an integral element of her artistic practice. The clarity of the natural brush strokes transcribes the patterns and lines within the landscape, the tonal nuances and the rhythmic pulses.
The seeping cracks of uncertainty and the weeping notes of pensiveness are etched in the melancholic hues of her abstract expressions.
She uses traditional handmade Korean paper or hanji that is prepared from the inner bark of Paper Mulberry and is imperative to Seong’s aesthetic principles.
The delicate patterns within the structure of the paper are integrated with artistic integrity in the designs and artistic abstraction within this collection of woodblock prints. Seong’s ever evolving creative style is conceived from loneliness and isolation.
Her palette of colours roam across a desolate summer in the artwork Moment seized me, I seized the moment V11. Her brooding brushstrokes seek comfort and connection, as print making extracts her solitude and translates into a soothing relationship of interaction and communication.
Vertical lines move down the paper filtering Moment seized me, I seized the moment V111, with a poignant memory of the passing of time. The misty delicacy of the background is consolidated by an ethereal white horizontal smudge that resonates and gives coherence to this exquisite woodblock print.
The structure of a tune carved out of fog forms a plaintive dance to the music of time. Lines weep and seep as they merge in a pool of tears articulating the seasons of birth, renewal, aging and death. The transcendent brushstrokes are pinnacles of moments of thought, observation and emotion.
There is reference to the lotus plant as a sacred symbol of enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Its roots are submerged in muddy water but the flower will rise above and bloom pure and fragrant.
The motifs of nature and grey lines mirror the sorrow of the imperfections and the harrowing disappointments of life in Leaking. The mechanics of thought transpire into the oppressive realization of political, historical, cultural and personal cracks and bleeds.
The fusion of weeping fissures and triumphant restoration is subtly implied in the placement of line, form and colour.
The bliss and wonder of lying on your back and gazing through the branches to the distant sky, absorbing the dappled light and viewing the branches as they twist and turn weaving magic is touchingly and tenderly captured by Seong Cho.
The innocence and purity of childhood is enchantingly evoked in the beauty and rhythm of the tree. Its life force swirls with celebratory strokes as Trail XXV11 soars with the magnitude and vision of nature.
The plate for this woodblock forms the top of a finely crafted wood console table. Using the exquisite creativity demonstrated in the plate in this way is an innovative extension of Seong’s practice and offers a new direction to the artist. It also informs the viewer sharing the process and adding a spatial structural dimension to Trail XXV11.
The same theme is evident in Trail XXV1, although this artwork is more playful. The branches criss-cross and collide with excitement and exultation. The flow and formation is enigmatic, suspending the joy of form. Each brush stroke is commanding, persuasively harmonious and dynamically accented.
To commemorate her birth Seong Cho’s mother purchased a role of rami, traditional Korean cloth. This custom is part of her family’s Korean traditions. Seong has hand drawn Lotus Pond in late Autumn on this cherished fabric.
The delicate, fragile artwork was draped under the ceiling and invited the viewer to observe the work by looking upwards. The beautiful hand painted gestural brushstrokes are like cadenced succinct haiku poetry.
Wisps of fleeting images and ideas are scattered and daubed as a visual vocabulary of nature’s own print making.
The lilt of a leaf, the path of an insect, the curve of a petal and the fork of a twig are unfolding images resplendent symbols of her love of the essence and character within the natural world.
Soft elusive moments merge and melt like the undertones of a concerto.
Australian Rhapsody is an elongated artwork that rejoices in the moment of diversity as brushstrokes swirl and twirl denoting the cyclic expansion of landscape. The pattern within the exquisite paper balances the lines and rhythm of the black brush strokes.
Like George Gershwin’s 1924 musical composition Rhapsody in Blue where the integration of jazz rhythms with elements of classical jazz is celebrated as one of the most popular American concert works, Seong’s artwork resonates with east meets west merging as a celebration of her past heritage and present culture.
The structure and exploration within Seong’s visual composition Australian Rhapsody is lyrical and inspired by a journey of discovery and acknowledgement of current place.
This exhibition is solemn and sacred. It drips and trickles the rusted flawed autumn of our imperfections. It measures moments seized precious threads of passing time that have a deep resonance in Seong’s unique woodblock prints.
Rose Niland, Special Features New South Wales, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018
All images courtesy Artist, Seong Cho