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Oriental painting

“[…] I gave lectures and taught classes about oriental painting. Oriental painting is pure and warm. It is cozy, like my home town in the rural areas of Dain, and pure as the crystal-clear water of the streams. I guess my own existence was like water. Despite being blocked by thorns, smashed by rocks or ground down by hammers, I feel like I continued to flow as is. My roots definitely come from oriental painting. In fact, every artistic root of Asians cannot be anything other than oriental painting. The word ‘nostalgia’ is sometimes a really beautiful thing. Nostalgia for the 1950s is on the wood floor.”

Her statement, declaring the roots of art as being ‘oriental painting’ is a major key expression that reflects the artist’s artistic status. Furthermore, the artist presents her value of existence as water. Flowing water, which is the law of nature as well as the province of social life. Through such a context, one would realize how alive the old saying 上善若水 (something extremely good is like water) is. If one would be able to live like water, truly as water, what obstacle would life present? Water always humbles itself and continues to flow to a lower place. Water does not sort allies or foes, but blends with all. While never discriminating between salt water or fresh water, never boasting its name for itself, all water flows to rivers and then to the sea. Such friendliness of nature was a value respected in East Asia. That may be the obvious reason why the paintings of Yang Soon Yeal have traces of flowing water in them.

Yoon Beom-mo (Art Critic)


“[…] 동양화는 참 맑고 따스하다. 내 어릴 적의 고향인 시골 다인처럼 포근하며, 개울물처럼 맑고 투명하다. 나의 존재는 물이었던가 보다. 가시로 막아도, 바위로 내리쳐도, 망치로 가루를 내어도, 나는 그저 흘렀던가 보다. 나의 모계는 분명히 동양화다. 아니 동양인 모두의 미술 뿌리는 동양화가 아닐 수 없다. 향수란 말은 때로는 정말 아름답다. 오십의 향수는 마루에 있음을.”

About the author Soon-yeal Yang

Yang Soon-yeal received her BFA and MFA in Asian Painting from the Hyosung Women’s University, Daegu, South Korea, and went on to teach at the university’s Department of Painting as an adjunct professor. She has had ten solo exhibitions at leading Korean galleries. In recent years Yang Soon-yeal has been arranging her oeuvre, as well as reliving her experiences with a wide range of artistic media by lecturing about her work under the title ‘Beyond beyond’, which centres around her series Dream & Love and has been very well received. It is the fruit of a career spanning 45 years in which she broadened her art through her spirit of enquiry into philosophy and literature.

All posts by Soon-yeal Yang →