Venice 2022 Art Biennial Personal Structures-Arirang Cantabile

by - November 28, 2023

Arirang Cantabile
 Ottchil (Korean lacquer), Hemp cloth on wood
  20x20cm  162ps

Chae, Rimm has been creating “sculptural painting” based on the use of ottchil, or Korean lacquer, and mother-of-pearl. She also demonstrates the novel potential of ottchil as pure fine art through her lacquer landscape paintings. At the exhibition “PERSONAL STRUCTURES,” she will present variegated fantasies of ottchil through her art project Arirang Cantabile. “Arirang,” is a lyrical folk song of Korea, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012 in recognition of its Outstanding Universal Value. Recently, BTS’s cover of “Arirang” has transformed this traditional folk number into a global sensation.

Her artwork reinvents Korean sensibilities and landscapes conjured up by “Arirang” through inner imagery. A polyptych comprising some 160 panels, it recreates the elements of traditional aesthetics (lines, colors, and empty spaces) with a modern twist and her unique insights. She uses creative lines based on the traditional color schemes known as obangsaek and ogansaek. As she notes, “The yellow, blue, red, white, and black hues that constitute obangsaek are beautiful colors reflecting the principles of nature.” A designer of traditional accessories, she evokes oriental moods in her works and ponders over the temporality of colors — a concept that forms the spiritual root of traditional Korean paintings. She mixes colors, peels them off, reinterprets them, and redesigns them while revealing the innate texture of lacquer. She sometimes employs vivid primary colors, fills the panel with light and soft pastel tones, or expresses depths using achromatic colors. Her work, which encompasses diverse contrasting values (e.g. the traditional and the contemporary, the East and the West, and light and darkness), leaves lingering feelings amid the juxtaposition of the simple and the profound as well as the bold and the delicate.

Through real and recalled scenery crossing between the figurative and the abstract in the connotative language of colors, her work manifests both restrained innocence and refined glamour. Oriental philosophical concepts, such as relationships in life, circulations in nature, harmony between humans and nature, are embedded in varying hues and simplified landscapes. Her language of colors embraces visual sensibilities and deep contemplation, creating diverse moving scenery.

Using native Korean materials, such as hemp cloth and paper, she expresses a differentiated aesthetic while exploring a new sculptural language by utilizing modern jewelry as objets d'art on the lacquered panels. This is not only an aesthetic achievement resulting from her delicate attention to landscapes but also an outcome of her efforts to reproduce Korean imagery using a modern sculptural language.

Each landscape vignette (e.g. mountains, an island, the sea, and the sky) that unfolds on a 20x20cm wood panel combines to create a dynamic panorama.  Each of the 160 panels exist independently but together provide the viewer with an epic, lyrical fantasy. The polyptych will invite us to explore diverse lacquering techniques and hues, experimental spirit of materials, humanistic concepts and the philosophy of color through the communion between the traditional and the modern.

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