KANG Yo-bae: The Profundity of Landscape
Although the final result of a painting is a two-dimensional flat plane, the process of creating it requires something more than two-dimensional experience. Experiences of space-time are something three-dimensional. Painting is the act of abstracting and compressing that three-dimensional experience onto a very thin surface, perhaps very cleverly so. Through the body, skin, even olfactory – one must experience in whichever way possible to be able to represent something even slightly. We do not live to express. Expression is merely a byproduct of life. Walking towards the wind, living within the wind, is most essential. Abstraction is pointing out and summarizing the key points. It is also picking out better things. Our lives are also concrete and abstract at the same time. However, there are times when abstraction is misunderstood as a process of diminishing rather than looking for the key points. There are many cases of merely mimicking famous Western painters — the process of abstract painting production, not mimicry. Abstraction is similar to compression, oil refining, or extracting fragrance. It is to get a hold of the core and get closer to the key point. One must not get caught in a trap of terms and mistake abstraction as a style. I am a person who was privileged from the Jeju sea. I want to be a person who my younger self wouldn’t be ashamed of. I respect my younger self. It’s like the ten-year-old Kang Yo-bae is telling himself in the present, “You are just as you are, no more, no less.” I could have been this kind of person or that kind of person, but strangely, I couldn’t transform myself. It also feels as if young adult Kang Yo-bae is asking, “Do you think you can transform to some other direction?” Though it isn’t that I never attempted it, but it never happened. My starting point wasn’t a painter. I think the same goes for my final destination. Life comes first; art comes second. Perhaps this might disappoint people, but it’s the truth. It’s nothing but merely a human’s life. My works are just reports of life.
- Excerpt from "Conversations with Kang Yo-bae, ‘Wind Breaking Waves of Bones’" by NOH Suntag (photographer), in The Profundity of Landscape (Dolbegae, 2020)