The rhythm of vivid symbolic forms – the world of Cho, Yong-ik’s works

Im, Yeong-bang (Formaldirector of National Museum of Contemporary Arts,Korea)


  The vestiges of time and effort the artist silently had put into his work were well represented by numerous works in his studio.  He cannot, however, exhibit all of them, only a few of them will be carefully chosen to be shown in the exhibition.  Cho’s work might seem to look bland in the eyes of a convention.  Yet, we can observe vividly creative foundations of art and the artist’s mature spirit sparkling therein.  The work, filled up with repeating motifs reminiscent of waves, might not sensationally excite the general public.  Here, we ought to open our eyes again and contemplate the work of Young-ik Cho with a calm state of mind.


  Our eyes will first be able to see that those wave-like motifs are all created differently.  Each of them is a complete independent entity, and at the same time, a component that adds to the entire picture.  These independent components have a complete shape composed of lines, planes, forces, rhythms, and spatiality, which allow the viewer to witness a clear concentration of force, akin to the spirit of a monk.  Therein, the artist’s consistent expression of the power of a brush stroke also imply this status of a purified mind.  The fact that his wielding of a brush does not accept any touching up, proves this state of mind.  In addition, each independent shape is morphed into another shape, representing a new state of elegancy in his brush stroke.  Yong-ik Cho describes his work as “the same status as breathing.”  Perhaps, this is the most relevant interpretation of his work.


  In other words, vital breathing has to be maintained until a work is finished.  The difficulties that Yong-ik Cho bears as an artist are that from the beginning to the end, a pause is not allowed, and a unified, purified spirit is required to dominate the picture and must be put into work.  Therefore, each and every shape in the picture is an independent entity and simultaneously a symbol of the whole.

That is the world of Yong-ik Cho’s formative art where each moment of the status of life creates a creature.  Each form of the picture is a momentary sign of life and its pulse, each and every, leads to another breath.  Seeing it from the viewpoint of painting, this status is composed of a breath and a pulse, presenting a lively flow of rhythms (breath and pulse).  In the East, it can be described as a regular circulation of elegant brush strokes containing energy.  Looking into this flow, we notice a musical quality which is a unity in diversity.  There are changes in intensity (strong and weak) and tensions (pulling and loosening) of lines.  However, all of these facets of the work are components that comprise the entirety.  Yong-ik Cho certainly knows that these basics of the composition lie in a balance between different elements.


  The work implies that the spatiality of a shape, unfolded according to a flow, can be infinite.  One thing we should pay attention to here is the fact that the artist’s artistic viewpoint equal to his ideal is represented by neutralized color.  Thus, all the works on display have uniformly neutralized monotonous color.  We can understand what Cho once said about his work, “Once I started working, I cannot have a break until work is all done.”  Also, when we perceive each of the works in the exhibition as an organic being that breathes, we can imagine how rigorous the artist’s creative endeavor was.