ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Zu Yeon Solo Exhibition
October. 27 (Fri) December. 1 (Fri), 2017
We invite you to attend Silhouette-Eden, the twelfth solo exhibition by artist Zu Yeon.
This exhibition could be described as presenting an existential space of “empty repletion”—a deeper approach to the artist’s philosophical aesthetic using object silhouettes from her eleventh solo exhibition Black Garden, which featured black plants and tools.
Like memories of the depression left by a sinkhole, the fearsome black objects on Zu’s canvases evoke the unpleasant feeling of a nighttime dream lasting as long as the daytime. Yet at that very moment, the viewer is embraced by a sense of easy consolation, like a pat to the shoulders of someone who has hit bottom. Pitch black and colorless, her objects are guided into a kind of paradox, wherein they are both clearly spaces of silhouette—black bamboo stalks, black butterflies, black flowers and plants—and at the same time places hollowed away on zinc and titanium white surfaces, empty spaces, storage places for innumerable memories and recollections. It is a kind of channel from reality to dream, from threat to solace.
The “silhouettes” in this exhibition are both memories dating back to Zu Yeon’s early years as an artist—perhaps her graduate school years, and according to her graduate dissertation as far back as the age of 17–as well as components of her own being. The daughter of a tile layer father, Zu began a roughly 15-year-long aesthetic search, earning the affectionate nickname of “plamodel artist” for her monochrome black plastic castings of everyday tools and work items. Since 2016, her painting work has been a journey of “exploration into the order of objects” using only the color black. It stemmed from the idea that because objects generally consist of languages of riddle—because, in the linguistic view of Walter Benjamin, the language of objects is “awaiting a revelation that will restore their clarity”—they are things that must be decoded.
Rather than being real-world or natural things from everyday life, with clear elevations and depressions, they are a way of expressing a potential Aiôn time embracing their past and future. Like the flat geometric images encountered in Egyptian painting, Zu has carved out flat silhouettes. They are silent objects, yet the hidden language through which their mere “presence” communicates something only reveals its essence once they have passed through silhouette. And so it is not, strictly speaking, a matter of painting silhouettes, but of painting the background beyond the silhouette and anticipating that the object will be drawn. It is a matter of painting light, presenting the whiteness so that the darkness, the shadow, comes into relief. The light buds from the back of the panting, brightening through its consciousness of the darkness, and the painting finally steps into the center between light and darkness. It seems like a familiar reality, yet it is a different order—one moving in different modules from this world—that is Zu’s “Eden.”
In short, the focus of this solo exhibition’s exploration is on the secret meaning of shadow and silhouette. Flowers in full bloom, spirited plants and trees, all rendered in black silhouette—it is the dark shadow possessed intrinsically by finite life forms, the flowers and plants of this Earth. Or rather, it is the human shadow. Zu asks whether this is not some part of ourselves that is revealed yet at the same time hidden inside us, something we try not to see or have failed to understand. We understand that what she is trying to depict with this is not a landscape of the world, but the metaphysics of the world. For it is there that we find the portraits of people roaming in deep solitude on streets teeming with flashy rhetoric and postmodern pastiche. It is there that we find the resplendent sadness of the most beautiful black suit.