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Contemporary Icons Stained with Protective Colors

The paintings drawn by Myeong-jin Yi are such works as describe all over the canvas tree leaves, objects, and their scenes, like the patterns on achromatic color tone military uniforms. The artist would experiment and speculate on this age when numerous images of objects appear and disappear in the scenery of thick tree leaves seen through the open window of his studio. The objects look different whenever he sees them. Living under the influence of the Internet and digital information media, we cannot distinguish between false and genuine, between fiction and non-fiction, which are intertwined in our everyday life. Incidents are continually expanded and rapidly diffused so that they should exist exaggerated apart from their original entities. The past history is actual and experimental records of the environments which we have had control over and in which our imaginations and ideals exist as myths composed of dichotomous values. In this age, ideals and heroes are not regarded as social fantasies but exist only as social individuals standing exposed. In this chaotic age, historic heros relive on-line and put an impact on the realities.

Among the tree leaves depicted by Myeong-jin Yi on the canvas, there are this world's icons which have existed from the beginning of the history till today: Medusa, cross, yellow prohibition line. motto, monumental sculpture, hero's face, general citizens, etc. All these objects do not use their identity to affect the world, but serve in their own way their enormous collective society portrayed in the tree leaves with protective colors of military uniforms. Yi's drawings express an emergent situation of this whole age, which is comparable to a jungle or an army where the relationship between preys and predators is not crystal clear. Their images are depicted as protection and concealment, disclosure and hiding, and appearance and disappearance, representing an unidentified life of this age. Yi's paintings, therefore, may be called historic landscape drawings in this age.

The canvas is part of the scenery filling up the screen which is not applied with the scenography but the frontal contra-positioning method. The multi-layered canvas stands for this whole world. The artist does not use the strength and weakness of matiere or brush touch in accordance with the thickness of dye-stuffs, but employs the achromatic color tones and colors of very calm and flat objective touches. Such a non-individual expression well represents the unambiguous situation of this age where ordinary entities are not distinguished from myths. Tree leaves on the screen become a fluid and atypical unit, which is freely transformed while staining other images. The atypical tree leaves, like monad(1) mentioned by Gottfried Wilherm Leibniz, serve as media which establish ties with the factors of the history and society and which are affected and affect the factors. The whole society, which have been degenerated by the atypical monad, cannot tell truth from falsehood and spare time to confirm the authenticity of objects but runs to search for new fantasies and produces new objects. Daniel J. Boorstin said, “We are the first-ever human beings who make fantasies more vivid and real than the realities and transform fantasies into what is more authentic than 'real things,' in which we try to lead a foolish life.”(2) Myeong-jin Yi is a sincere artist of today who applies a different drawing method to and/or over the identity of paintings in the history of art, which deals with the fantasies of images to present new time and space, while conducting an experiment to find out contact points for expressing the same subject.

By Mi-Jin Kim / Art Director, Seoul Arts Center/ Professor, Hong Ik University

(1) Unlike atom, monad is an non-material entity, whose essential nature is a symbol. Symbols comprise not only conscious ones but unconscious minute ones. In a symbol, the exterior is included in the interior. By means of such an attribute of a symbol, monad, in spite of its own simplicity, can concern itself with external diversity. The diversity symbolized by monad refers to the whole world. Confer Doosan Encyclopaedia: encyber.com.
(2) Daniel J. Boorstin, trans. Tae-cheol Jeong, Images and Fantasies (Seoul: Four Seasons, 2004). P. 329.

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