Sangsun Bae has been making two types of paintings: one type made using blue-black ink and charcoal on white surfaces coated with gesso mixed with the blue-black ink, and another type made by drawing countless fine lines of gesso using a fine-point brush on surfaces of black velvet in a way that brings out the jet-black color. These works have their origins in abstracted profile lines extracted from figure sketches, and they thus carry a rhythm of organic lines that relate to the bonds that are formed between lives and also to her current knotted forms.
Bae, who started off by drawing people in order to better understand herself, eventually developed an interest in the very movements of people. While exploring her thoughts through delving into the questions of what it means to be human and what it means to live, she eventually began to focus on the subtle changes in the air that occur between two posing models set in the different combinations of woman-woman, man-man, or man-woman. Here lies an important concept of Bae, who has discovered the imperceptible and indefinite aura or energy generated and exchanged between people that constantly shifts in direction and strength.
The single placid lines that she makes differ from the slicing lines of the West: they are Eastern lines that mix the internal and external worlds together from both sides. Like traces of ink, they seep out into their surrounds and make observers conscious of the outside world. I believe that both the concept of the boundary that arises between the black and white and the idea of inverting the black and white that are seen in her work have been shaped through her realization of the meaning of the line that mixes together the inside and outside.
Bae’s paintings―composed from single lines, the stoic use of emotionless black and white, and the intensely powerful sense of vitality that is a special characteristic of the artist―has its footings on a fundamental style of painting that stands at an opposite extreme to the paintings of recent trends that are over-reliant on instinctive color combinations and innovation of technique. I am drawn to the life force in her paintings that is born from her sincere approach to creation.
Bae’s work, which makes us aware of the meaning and power of living through our bonds with other people at a time when human relationships have become shallow and fleeting, brims with appeal: it reminds us of the true nature of paintings and enables us to feel sensations that mature through the passing of time spent in its presence.
Recently, she has produced sculptural works using ropes knotted in a way that cannot be unraveled, which she has made based on an experience through which she felt a deep connection to the birth of life. I am eager to watch over how she will continue to evolve her work that carries within its voids the potential for the bonds and relationships that humans form to be further explored.
Emiko Hiraki (Art Director)