Yeesookyung: The Meaning of Time, 2014
Text by Robert C. Morgan
64 pages, Softcover with dust jacket
Published by Locks Art Publications
In this publication which accompanies Yeesookyung's first significant solo exhibition in the United States, the artist revisited traditional Korean arts in work featuring porcelain and gold sculptures, silk scroll paintings, and a video dance performance. This work reflects both a wisdom from decades of conceptual art practice and a rigorous formal training in her elegant craftsmanship. Identifying herself as a "local artist," Yee's work reflects poetically on specific Korean cultural traditions and histories. But in the context of globalization, the work poignantly reflects how traditions taken from the past are re-imagined and re-contextualized. Known internationally for her Translated Vase series, Yee collects porcelain shards from Korean ceramists who make reproductions of Joseon Dynasty white porcelain and Goryeo Dynasty celadon masterworks. By making intuitive voluptuous forms out of their "trash", Yee employs the traditional method of repairing ceramics with gold. Meanwhile the works play with language as gold and crack (both "geum") are homonyms in Korean. Also presented are recent silk scroll paintings from the series Flame Variation. Echoing the graphic iconographic style of the wall paintings of the Gorguryeo Tombs with the spatial organization of symmetrical Buddhist paintings, Yee combines traditional religious imagery with that of fairy tales, cartoons, myths, and allegories. From a distance the scrolls appear to be traditional artifacts, but upon further inspection they are captivating in their non-linear narratives and distinctly contemporary graphic content. Yeesookyung's video dance work, Twin Dance, is an extended meditation on Kyo Bang Choom, a traditional Korean dance performed by women of the Joseon Dynasty. The work explores a relationship with symmetry akin to the silk scroll paintings. The video completes this constellation of works that represent her recent conceptual investigations into Korean cultural traditions with distinctly contemporary approaches.