Drawing | Installation | Public Art | Essay | Resume
 
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RED CHAMBER



Seo's work is characterized by strong linear draughtsmanship, subtle but rich colors
and a highly personalized conceptual framework that examines the cultural landscape
of U.S. and Korea and the predicament of the individual within those cultures.

Seo uses symbolic graphic elements derived from her life and the broader cultural
history of Korea, in architectonically graphic drawings, elegantly rendered in linear
grids and overlapping patterns. These rich and precisely drawn black traceries suggest
weavings or wire grids, and are set on a field of a single saturated color, sometimes red,
sometimes blue green, yellow or baby blue.

She has referred to the grids, as well as to herself (and her own transcultural experiences
as a Korean living in the U.S.,), as fences. The Fence, she says, represents the strange
situation of the boundary being neither one side nor the other, suspended in between.
Her beautiful patterned grids can be derived from the general forms of Korean men's hats
or from the elegant patterns of Western women's corsets. Or they can also suggest the
minimalist geometric patterns of Sol Lewitt or the distilled iconic grace of an Ellsworth
Kelly drawing, though rendered with her own lively sense of history and her own engaging
and graceful allusions to a range of symbolic graphic antecedents.

Indeed it is her skillful graphic compositions that grab the eye and draw the viewer into
a compositional space that can also invoke a wide range of social, personal and
historical possibilities. In her newest works she has expanded her two-dimensional
concerns outward into real space, creating hanging works into which the viewer can
walk and physically explore her drawings.

Seo's work in the past has been particularly notable for an unusual mix of visual serenity
and formal inventiveness. Her languid overlays of atmospheric colors serve to obscure
and soften rigorously conceived linear forms. But in these new, three-dimensional works
her abstract linear forms have become real things, colorful lattices that drape and envelope
the viewer. She has elevated the impact of her metaphorical allusions to fences and social
boundaries by transforming her abstract linear grids into actual, hanging, elegantly restraining
physical patterns. Radiant in saturated color and transparent in an utterly different manner,
these hanging paper grids ingeniously reiterate Seo's knack for idiosyncratic geometric form
and her ongoing fascination with achieving a poetic visual reflection on life and social meaning.


Calvin Reid
2002