The beginning, or the end of a rainbow. Is it somewhere you can reach or a thing you can grasp in your hand? The beauty and the mystery of splendid colors hung in the sky. Can you trace back to the point from which every little part of a daily miracle emerges and disappears? Step into this unfamiliar realm where space and time are still vibrating with the echoes of colors faded from the sky. The spectrum of colors has been now absorbed into the monochromatic current of metallic lucidity. Just as gravity pulls your body, all your senses are attracted by the flowing force of this unusual space ? an invitation to the inaudible and the invisible.
“The sky is black and earth yellow; space and time, vast and limitless.”1 For the eyes of ancient people the sky appeared ‘black úÜ.’ The sky far away out of reach was something mysterious ? vast and profound, unfathomable to human faculties. It is as if they intuitively knew that the pitch-dark cosmic space expands forever beyond the bright sky of ever-changing colors from gray to ocean blue, blue to burning red. After sunset the sky turns dark and the immeasurable depth of the universe finally reveals itself as numerous stars and the Milky Way begin to glimmer from millions of light years away.
The hidden and the revealed, the namable and the unnamable are born from the same threshold of this ‘profundity úÜ.’2 The ineffable beyond the dazzling iridescence of visible light. The artist’s eye feels it, her body intuits it, and her hand reenacts it through her creations. From the ‘end of the rainbow,’ or the source of the innermost flow, the ‘rivers’ begin to run. In these rivers winding their ways through open space, “the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”3 Jinnie Seo has the gift for capturing fleeting colors, sounds and movements pulsating in this ever-elusive here-and-now. Through her mind and hand they are transferred into the multi-layered space imbued with synesthetic rhythms and rhymes.
1. “ô¸ò¢úÜüÜ, éÔñµûóüØ,”
The first sentence of the Cheonjamun (ô¶í®Ùþ, Thousand Character Classic)
2. “ÍºßÈÙíé°ì¤ÎºÐìÙØ, ßÈêóé°ì¤ÎºÐì?, ó®Õ×íºÔÒ, õóì»ì¶Ù£, ÔÒêÝñýúÜ, úÜñýéÑúÜ, ñëÙØñýÚ¦,”
Laozi, Chapter 1, Tao Te Ching (Ô³ÓìÌè)
3. Leonardo da Vinci
Fragments of the sky are scattered in space glinting in all directions as you walk through them ? the waves of the ‘blue borders,’ or a three-dimensional rainbow of blues. The invisible forms and colors, inaudible beats and tunes are lurking in the sky. The eye of the artist seizes them, her hand translates them into an organic yet geometric, sensuous yet orderly harmony. From drawing to cutting, from painting to constructing, from dissecting to reconstructing, Seo creates a window that opens toward yet another scenery. Always true to the ineluctable principle of art from all times ? “art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”1 Not a mirror that reflects the superficial, but a window that connects between different dimensions, the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible.
She orchestrates shades of colors and arrays of forms to resonate with the chords in the soul. Your mind hears the sound of forms, feels the rhythms of colors. All kinds of sensory memories of the body are revivified in this moment, in this space. Only those who can truly ‘wander’ around flickering phenomena passing by us every moment are able to discover the hidden ‘wonder’ beneath them. The way she perceives the world is reminiscent of that of ancient poets who found inspiration in the simplicity of the unaffected mind ? “Wait and keep the mind simple, soon emerges the pure and the genuine. Like capturing reflections in the water, like portraying the warmth of spring.”2
The landscape unfolding from her window is always ‘in transit’ ? from painting to sculpture, from shape to sound, from real to imaginary, from past to present. From this window you no longer see things in a frozen present; you begin to perceive evolving movements of percepts as well as concepts. Here, yet another transition is to come. She guides us to another place along the road she has wandered through ? a place in which new verses emerge. Just as the new poetry of visions was born when the ‘blues and greens ôìÖà’ of the old landscape3 was sublimated into the serenity of the ‘ink and wash â©Ùø.’4
1. Paul Klee
2. “ï¾î·ÖÄáÈ, á´üÞôèòØ, åýØòâ©ç¯, åýÞÐåÕõð,”
“Description(û¡é»),”Shihpin (ãÌù¡, Twenty-Four Categories of Poetry)
3. “The Blue-Green Landscape (?Öàß£â©)”of Tang Dynasty.
4. “The Literati Painting(â©Ùø? or ÙþìÑ?)”developed in Song Dynasty,
and practiced by scholar gentlemen or literati.
A poet needs a space in which she can render her poetic visions and imaginations, just like “painting comes from the plain ground.”1 Words of exaltation and yearning, joys and sorrows inscribed in this space turn into vivid imageries in the mind of readers. The space of poetry and the empty background of painting are merged into one in Seo’s borderless and timeless place of the unknown. Dreams of an ancient female poet are revived in the landscape of rocks and clouds woven from shadows and lights, repetitions and variations. In this physical yet conceptual landscape you are invited to wander calmly between materiality and transiency of objects, clarity and subtlety of ideas.
The ancient sage who began an insightful contemplation on the world with the musing about the ‘black úÜ,’ now speaks of the ‘white áÈ,’ or the ‘plainness.’ “Show the plainness of undyed silk; embrace the simplicity of uncarved wood”2 ? this is the essence and the foundation of creation that would strike a chord in your heart. Simplicity allows endless possibilities, and plainness is to be painted with all kinds of colors, thoughts and sensations that may be imbedded in your mind waiting to be found again. The wanderer, who created this landscape of mind, must have meandered through a long way in order to reach this purity and integrity of both form and content.
It is not a reduction, nor an abstraction. It is evaporation of the murky mist that once obscured the view, or a crystallization of all the visual, tactile, synesthetic memories into the ‘clouds’ that will again reflect the splendor of the rising sun, the glow of the sunset. “We shall not cease from exploration; And the end of all our exploring; Will be to arrive where we started; And know the place for the first time.”3 Now, back to the beginning of the rainbow? a newly-found yet also familiar place.
1.“üëÞÀýáÈ,”Confucius, Book III, The Analects (ÖååÞ)
2.“Ì¸áÈøÙÚÒ,”Laozi, Chapter 19, Tao Te Ching (Ô³ÓìÌè)
3. T. S. Eliot, from“Little Gidding,” Four Quartets
Philosophy of Art