Young-Dae Park
born in 1942


Incorporeity with Infinite Possibilities

Yeong-Taek Park (Art critic)

After creating a lyrically colored painting in 1973, in which white butterflies are flying in the background of a barley field, Youngdae Park won the Grand Prize in the Baekyanghyeong Art Contest thanks to this piece in 1978. It is said that one of the reasons for him to have painted a barley field is his childhood memories. As he grew up in a farming village and helped out with some chores around there, he got to have various emotions and memories regarding barley. Especially, he was so touched by the beautiful rhythm and lively feeling of the scene when the wind blew in the barley field near Mihocheon, Cheongju, which is his hometown. Meanwhile, he might have been influenced by Saenggwang Park and Boksun Cho who both were color painting artists and professors when he was in college. It is also considered that hyperrealism would have influenced him which was embodied among Korean artists in the middle and late 1970s. In addition, this barley themed painting would have been correlated with the demand for national culture and its identity that were required in the Korean society at the time. Although barley itself was a very Korean and indigenous theme for a painting, this painting looked different from the themes of other contemporary color paintings.

However, before long, this artist turned away from the coloring technique and realistic depictions and turned to a highly orthodox literati painting methodology which utilizes the brush strokes and black ink. The artist that he paid attention to at that time was Punggok Jaehyu Seong. He was the one who improved ‘the intention & taste to appreciate the power through oriental writing’which was considered as one of the spirits in old literati paintings by modernizing it. In this context, the intention & taste means a dignified world achieved by the power of writing, in which various tastes are welcome. The clarity and richness of class his paintings show are the result of such a process. Punggok put emphasis on the ink spreading technique, expressed a distinct characteristic through thick line drawings and lively strokes of a brush, and used the intense colors boldly to maximize the coloring effect, which helped him to form a colorful and dynamic style of painting featuring the contrast of colors, thick lines, and fast strokes. This style must have been influenced by the calligraphy technique of Eungro Lee.

Youngdae Park was deeply impressed by the charm and modernity of the literati painting through the view of Goam and Punggok. Still, barley images are used as a theme in his painting, but its representation is no longer meaningful. His paintings bring up the image of life through barley and Japanese wisterias, seeds, crabs, Japanese apricot flowers, and chickens are spread out from his brush and ink. He maximizes the texture effect of soft and subtle surface with a distinctive back-focusing technique which spreads the ink out from the back of the screen and harmonizes the lines and colors so that it can deliver a power of life. It emerges lively as a spiritual symbolic image between concrete expression and abstract expression. Gi-un-saeng-dong(氣韻生動/Life Energy), which is the most ideally required factor in calligraphy and literati paintings, refers to ‘lively sentience’. Expressing it in the painting means that the energy is exposed at the moment when the artists are unconscious about their strokes. It is said that the emotions of life can be delivered only when the lines are flowing on the paper freely with the sense of rhyme. So, it suddenly appears during the process of painting an intangible thing which has infinite possibilities even when we are not aware of what it may become and what shape it may take.
Feeling infinite freedom, artists indulge themselves into some kind of contingency to create the art work in a way they do not intend to.

Painting is the task of creating something from nothing. While something can reach the status of being substance based on itself according to the western view, substance can be achieved based on nothing in the eastern view, which means something and nothing can coexist. In the western world, nothing represents the state of nonexistence of anything, but in the eastern world, nothing is meant to be what is full of Qi(氣/Energy) with the process which keeps producing, changing, and creating something.
Artists are able to fully express Qi(氣) by having themselves immersed in the objects that they want to paint until the object identically matches to them. What makes it possible to happen depends on the skill and power of brush strokes. The painting can be completed by the integration of these two. Therefore, what the painter wants to paint is not the objective form of Qi(氣) but the rhythm of Qi(氣). That is, it is the expression of life itself which expresses the intrinsic rhythm as something live moving around. And it inevitably comes out as lines. In addition, Oriental literati painting is often summarized as Wu wei (無爲/non-action or nondoing) due to the influence of Taoism, which means that mastery of art can be accomplished by the skill of using brushes and ink not with intention but with a naturally controlled mind. This simple aesthetic expression seems to be pursued by Youngdae Park. With a simple composition and light brush strokes & ink, it takes us to the world of art where the paintings are appreciated with a feeling of emptiness, infinite spatial sense and light rhythm. This is the painting that enables viewers to enjoy the wild nature and causes them to have the feeling of relaxation and freedom. It is intended to express a pure image using only simple lines and minimum amount of brush strokes & ink to show freedom, innocence, and nature by refusing artificial embellishment and explanation. It seems that these features are the ones that he understands as intention, class, and greatness of literati paintings. Such his efforts are permeated in his recent works.