The Lyric that Sings Nature

by - September 22, 2019

Bog Gi Kim

Contemporary art is now in the era of ‘deconstruction of the genre.’ The distinct boundaries of genre are collapsing to the point that the expression 'form' no longer seems to have any meaning. Artworks that subvert all forms of visual art, for instance, the traditional formative elements such as subject matter, material, substance, figure, color, and composition are steadily being presented in the art world. There are rapid movements that disrupt the matter of the form through drastic cross-genre. The sea of 'hybrids' is spreading out from the well of so-called ‘purebred’ before us.

Chae Rimm’s work may be also considered as ‘hybrid art’ in the context of contemporary art. Chae started her career as a jewelry designer. However, she created a unique oeuvre by consistently expanding on materials and technique, and opening up her expressions. The key factor of her artworks is to combine a base 'cultivated' through Ottchil (traditional Korean lacquer), and three-dimensional forms of jewelry crafts. In this context, one may understand the word ‘Jewelry Painting,’ coined by a foreign art critic.

Chae Rimm uses Ottchil to create her base. She paid attention to the beauty of traditional crafts such as Najeonchilgi (lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl). Ottchil’s color and brilliance is obtained through dozens of repeated processes of strenuous manual work on wood. The picture screen reveals various expressions depending on the different concentration and saturation of Ottchil. The fluid composition as liquid spreading, rapid brushstrokes like a gale, sleek surface like the face of pure water, dreamy pastel tones like a landscape from a distant memory, sfumato with vague boundaries as if it were foggy… The artist does not stop here. She brings hemp to her picture screen in order to emphasize the effect of matière. The mysterious nuance conjures up the deepest floor of the paleo-sea, tactility of a pitch-dark night, or the surface of an unknown planet. Everything mentioned above is reminiscent of a model of nature (or the universe). In fact, the base alone meets sufficient requirements for painting.

From a distance
Ottchil (Korean lacquer), Hemp cloth
20x20cm (x32ps)

Chae Rimm plants and grows jewelry craft on the field of this cultivated base. She corresponds the base with not only traditional gems including amber, coral, jade, but natural gems such as turquoise, azure stone, aquamarine set on silver as well. The artwork embroidered with traditional mother-of-pearl is full of charm. The surface effect of the delicately glowing shell is the distinct characteristic of mother-of-pearl. Try to bring back memories from your childhood. Remember the cabinet decorated with mother-of-pearl in the main room of your childhood home. The mysterious color mother-of-pearl emits! It reveals different patterns as the viewer shifts. The pattern of 22K gold plated silver is not something you can see every day. The patterns are modern depictions of traditional Symbols of Longevity such as the Sun, mountain, water, pine tree, cloud, elixir plant, deer, turtle, and crane in a modern way. When the jeweled pattern is placed on Chae's picture screen that is like a miniature version of nature, it shines like a symbol of the birth of life and harmony of space.
The encounter between the Ottchil base and jewels. This rendezvous unfolds into a variety of combinations, such as a butterfly fluttering on the flower field, petals floating on the surface of a pond, grass laying neatly along the road, full leaves in the well-shaded forest, a flock of birds crossing the windy sky, a quietly rising fog at sunrise, echoes that ring to the peaks of the mountain, a twinkling nebula in the night sky….
Chae Rimm writes a lyric poem like a literary girl who is full of emotions. The lyric that sings nature! In front of this world of serene meditation, we slip endlessly and endlessly into the profound internal world. The deep reflection into the mental world eventually leads us to an enigmatic universe and the mystical light of our existence, and finally gives us the joy of tasting the glorious nobility of life.

Chae Rimm’s art is constantly evolving. She now presents works that have developed jewelry craft into a three-dimensional form. She is extending her oeuvre into sculptures and installations, applying the awareness of volume and color of jewelry craft. Her recent work, , made with welded brass, avoided decorative features of jewelry craft and became a refreshing 'space drawing'. At this point, Chae's work will no longer have to be associated with the term craft or design. The world that Chae Rimm, who started from jewelry design, has reached is a truly fascinating outcome of a breakaway.
Chae’s art has an important formative task that must constantly be worked on. It is to apply tradition but go beyond it, and extend this tradition in the present by striking into the modern world of today. In order to take a step closer, her work must go overcome the physical combination of ‘jewelry+painting.’ Her works contain not only the issue of genre, that is, between craft and painting, but truly invaluable critical discourses on contemporary art as well. Tradition/modernity, way of the East/skill of the West, flatness/solidness, illusion/objet, nature/civilization, past/present, fine/practical... It always will be interesting to see how the artist, Chae Rimm, will work with these binaries, and the figurative development of subversion, dissolution, deconstruction, and synthesis.

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