Through the Light of the Forest

by - March 22, 2019

Robert C. Morgan

Ms. Rimm Chae’s work as a visual artist has evolved from years of training as a jewelry designer long before she became known for her elegant and original lacquer forms.

She eventually went on to develop a complex form of sculptural relief. Her method involves the application of multiple coats of lacquer on wooden panels embedded with mother of pearl. As a technique indigenous to Korean art, the resulting surface ultimately reveals a beatific resonance of silent, glimmering beauty. When her art is placed within a living space, it has the potential to transform and thus enhance the quality of living within that space.

Upon discovering Rimm Chae’s background as a jewelry designer, I was reminded of the Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe who also trained as a jeweler before decided to work on a monumental scale as an architect. In either case, there is a kind of intimacy associated with the design of jewelry that involves working with precious metals and rare stones. These forms of intimacy are capable of both evoking pleasure and, at the same time, exceeding the limits of the human body. In the work of Rimm Chae, her jewelry would eventually move into forms that possessed a larger-scale, lyrically designed presence. Her transcendent lacquer surfaces continue to indulge those who response to her fastidious attention to craft and her intuitive sense of decorum.

Jewelry is generally understood as a decorative form of art that enhances the appearance of the body, particularly the face of the person wearing it. There is little doubt that this aspect of jewelry is well known to Rimm Chae. Even so, she had aspiration to move her career into another sphere simultaneously whereby her lacquered surfaces on hard wood surfaces often accompanied by mother of pearl, along with metal ornaments in various metals, including 22 carat gold. One can speak of numerous works by this artist in which the lacquer and metal techniques are staggering.

Song of the wind in the forest
Ottchil (Korean lacquer), Hemp cloth
Mother-of-pearl, Silver on wood

Take Song of the Wind in the Forest, for example, a work that constitutes nothing less than a major artistic breakthrough for the artist. She has referred to this work in the following way: “I chose to deviate from traditional lacquer techniques and follow the inspiration and energy coming from within. With my previous projects, I had created my lacquer work through repeatedly applying, drying, and grinding lacquer approximately 40 times. However, in the case of ‘Song of the wind in the forest’, I focused on depicting the texture of bark with a new and different type of lacquer technique. The irregular patterns mimic the lines of nature, giving the viewer a sense of a vast and grand landscape, looking down upon trees or a forest from high above.”

I am further intrigued by a series of work, titled Walking in the Forest (English Title), from the current year. The horizontality of these lacquer reliefs holds an undulating quality. The impact of her floral design constructed with carefully placed silver insets, resembling fresh fallen snowflakes on the ground is brilliantly imaginative. The blue-gray ground built up from the translucence of the various layers of lacquer give the appropriate effect to her narrative theme.

Both “Song of the wind in the forest” and the works that comprise “Walking in the forest” continue the artist’s pursuit of mimicking the lines of natures, each in their own forceful way. The rhythmic aspect of these recent works is given to an over-all rhythmic sensation rather than a linear one. What is impressive about these works is how they hold their own space, creating a kind of spatial identity, which is also a cultural identity, in the sense of being Korean.

Her work enacts the formal essence of an aesthetic approach that allows these fascinating forms to come alive. On another level, they portray a kind of Eastern materialist understatement in the sense that the materials are imbued with a spiritual meaning, which holds the potential for contemplation.

0 개의 댓글