Magazine article Artforum International

Zuyoung Chung: Gallery 175

Magazine article Artforum International

Zuyoung Chung: Gallery 175

Article excerpt

The Confucian emphasis on "pursuit of tradition" has laid a subconscious guilt trip on contemporary Korean art. Straying far from the tradition of ink painting on hanji (Korean paper), the country's primary art form aside from ceramics until the early twentieth century, contemporary artists have been greatly influenced by Western modernism. By contrast, Zuyoung Chung's mountain landscapes are masterful hybrids of native style and the adopted tradition of oil painting.

Chung has painted landscapes since her school days in Dusseldorf and Amsterdam, when she sketched abstracted pastoral scenes. When she first switched to Korean terrain, she took her cues from ink paintings by Kim Hong-do, the eighteenth-century landscape and folk painter, and by Chong Son, the seventeenth- to eighteenth-century master of mountain landscapes. In this early stage, she typically copied a section of one of their paintings onto her linen support, enlarging a portion of coast or a mountain peak. Whereas the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) originals measure no more than two feet in length and are characterized by sensitive touches of ink, Chung's canvases are often up to fourteen feet wide and are filled with big, powerful, dry brushstrokes, their subjects simplified and flattened to a degree often verging on abstraction.

The recent show at Gallery 175 included ten works that highlight a new development in Chung's approach to landscape. The images are no longer taken from existing paintings. Instead, she has used characteristic views of the mountains of Seoul--Bukak, Inwang, and Bulam. …

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