There’s something about landscape paintings that allows viewers to accept them as they are.
When viewing Kang Yo-bae’s landscape paintings of Jeju island, one can stop trying to understand the art, but just let the works touch their hearts.
The 61-year-old native of Jeju is a landscape painter who has been portraying the southern island of Jeju for more than two decades.
Born on Jeju, the artist spent his 20s and 30s in Seoul, studying painting at Seoul National University and teaching high school students at a girl’s high school in the city. When he reached 40, he decided to return to his hometown just because he missed it so much.
|“Canola Flowers,” 2013 by Kang Yo-bae. (Hakgojae Gallery)|
“Why do I like Jeju? It has the real texture of the nature. You can see seasonal changes clearly, and the sea offers comfort and strength. But it also has a sad history and grief in life,” said Kang at a press preview of his new exhibition at Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Wednesday.
The artist once devoted his artistic practice to commemorating the April 3, 1948 massacre on Jeju, which saw the killing of tens of thousands of islanders during the course of suppressing an uprising by Jeju-based progressive activists against the Korean government.
Since he moved back to Jeju 22 years ago, the artist has developed his own approach to depicting the landscape. And the new exhibition showcases around 40 paintings and 10 drawings he created in the last five years while living in a northwestern village on Jeju.
He transfers distinctive characteristics of Jeju, such as the dynamic weather, clear seasonal changes and various colors of the sea, onto the canvas with unique brush strokes and color tones.
“I think an artist is someone who builds his own style during the course of their artistic career. People often define me as an impressionist or find me hard to categorize. I like not being labeled,” he said.
In the “Myeongju Sea,” he paints just the sea, and nothing else. But the different shades of blue and rough, yet detailed strokes depict the sea that is seen only in the waters off Jeju.
“The Jeju I saw when I returned at 40 was completely a new place to me. Flowers, mountains and waters were all intriguing. I rediscovered the beauty of Jeju while walking around the island,” said Kang, who held his first solo exhibition at the age of 40.
Now one of the best-selling artists of Hakgojae Gallery, Kang attempts to challenge the boundaries of his art and himself.
“It’s time for me to explore something fundamental ― life, death and the universe. I want to focus on key elements of life and the world and not be limited by every detail of life,” said Kang.
“My goal is to create something that’s not me or Jeju ― something completely different,” he said.
Kang Yo-bae’s solo exhibition runs from March 27-April 21 at Hakgojae Gallery in Jongno, Seoul.
For more information, call (02) 720-1524~6.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com