‘Pen’ painting exhibit shows they’re not just for writing
The repetitive explosion of pens is densely compacted in “Pens 3: Butterfly of Rebirth” (2010), a painting that measures eight meters (25 feet) in size and took a decade to complete. It was first exhibited at Doosan Gallery New York in 2010, where Hong was an artist-in-residency, but there has been a slight change since then.
“The painting was simply named ‘Pens 3’ in the 2010 exhibition in New York,” Hong said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily at the gallery last week. “And I was planning to go with this title once again, but at the last moment, I changed my mind and added ‘Butterfly of Rebirth.’”
Amid the bold and sharp pens created in oil, a glimpse of nature peeks through in the form of flowers and butterflies. The flowers blossom in the middle as if eager to grasp attention with their vivid and glowing colors.
“Vivid color, various textures and glossy but also smooth surfaces can be found in my paintings,” Hong said.
Within Hong’s obsessive detailing of his subjects - pens, flowers and butterflies - a calculative structure can be found.
“The symmetrical structure gives a sense of authority and solemnity that I prefer in my paintings,” Hong said.
While the massive “Pens 3” has missile-like pens shouting its grandiosity, “Full of Love” (2012) is light and bubbly, with a sense of humor.
“It was the first time I used only a few pens in a painting for this series,” said Hong. “I wanted people to feel light and simply enjoy ‘Full of Love.’”
His decision to make a slight twist to his “Pen” series came all of a sudden when one of his friends told him about the origin of his favorite song, “All Is Full of Love” (1997) by Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork.
“I heard from a friend one day that Bjork was haunted by her experience with a crazed man who tried to kill her,” Hong said. “But rather than writing mean and nasty lyrics, she wrote a song that was about love, which triggered me to paint ‘Full of Love.’”
In the painting, a bear proposes to a skull while surrounded by hearts and pens. Viewers shouldn’t have a hard time guessing whether the proposal was successful, but Hong offers a hint for those who struggle.
“For the painting, I drew a person’s heart with a cupid’s arrow piercing it. I even looked at autopsy books several times to be as realistic as possible,” he said.
The exhibition runs through April 29. Admission is free. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. The exhibition is closed on Mondays. Go to Jongno 5-ga Station, line No. 1, exit 1.
For more information, visit www.doosangallery.com or call (02) 708-5050.
By Shin Ji-ye Contributing writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]