An Ordinary Life Diary through Equivalent Expression of Objects - Choi Woolga's World of Works - Oh, Se Gwon Art critic

Lately, such technology fine art works as video installations have decreased at the major exhibitions in Korea, while the painting works have some increased as before, showing diverse expressions. Particularly, the main trends seem to be the pop art featuring the characters from animations or cartoons as well as some hyper-realism tendency. It is not sure yet whether such tendencies in the early new millenium should be important enough to be verified and established in the Korean fine art or they will be parts of the temporary fashion. In the circumstance, we may find around us many artists who show diverse expressions with their own imagination and creativity, not being influenced by the Western art or the contemporary fashion.

Choi Woolga is one of such artists who continue to explore their own world of art not minding the fashion of the time. His world of works may be divided in large into those during 1980's, those during 1990's and those during 2000's. These three categories of his works which seem to be similar to each other, but have evolved, undergoing the changes in different directions. Especially, such daily life records as shown in his works during 2000's have continued to evolve from his works during 1980's.

Although we can seldom see them today, we saw the wide walls made of the cement spread thin on the earthen wall in countrysides frequently as late as 1960's and 1970's. We also saw the wide wall made of rice straws and yellow soil mixed and moulded like mortar frequently. Kids used to write or draw on such walls with chalk, crayon or nail, as if they were scribbling. Here and there on the yards of rural villages, kids were playing such games as pasteboard turnover game, glass bead hitting game, stick flying game, territory seizing game, stone pitching game, and so on. There were solid grounds for such plays or games. Kids drew the game boards on such grounds with nail, stone, chalk or crayon or scribbled or painted on them. Earthen walls or the solid grounds were the good canvases for the rural kids.

Upon reviewing Choi Woolga's works, we are reminded of the rural kids' scribbles on earthen wall or ground during 1960's and 1970's. Their scribbles contained their innocence and primitiveness, showing the stories about their daily life like a diary. Choi Woolga's works show such characteristics of children's scribbles. For example, he does not depict the objects clearly, just expressing their characteristics as simple lines, and thus, his paintings are characterized by the front-view expressions witnessed in children's or primitive men's drawings; his paintings are descriptively planar like life diaries.

Daily routine means a continuum of days lived by people, implying people's experiential life within the fence of life. Daily routine within life consists of diverse attributes: repetition, excitement, enjoyment, grief, pleasure.... In this routine, human beings live their own life anonymously. Usually, 'daily routine' is discussed philosophically in ontological or sociological terms, giving weight to human beings' experiential life. However, not in academic terms but in ordinary terms, 'daily routine' means 'the diverse looks of daily life.' In Choi Woolga's works, such looks of daily life are expressed like diaries. The living scenes inside and outside home are expressed as if they were sketched.

Choi Woolga's works may be divided in large into three categories: indoor landscape, outdoor landscape and indoor/outdoor landscape. The first category shows such home items arranged to talk with each other as small clock, fruits, calendar, fish bowl, tea cup, flowers, TV, and the like. The second category features such diverse objects deployed on a plane as bird, chair, tree, helicopter, reservoir, bus, traffic signal lamp, building, etc. The third category expresses, like surrealism works, the indoor objects items juxtaposed with the outdoor ones, while blurring the boundary between indoor and outdoor. The objects are expressed as if they were arranged on a plan for the effect of hypallage.

In his works, people are shown in most cases. One man sits on a chair indoors, and another man stands. Objects and men are set in diverse looks. Outdoors, one man is fishing, while another man is walking on the street, and other man is aboard the helicopter. His people look like being engaged naturally in the daily routine, interacting with the objects.

Choi Woolga's works do not attempt to approach an event or an object to explain about it explicitly. Various objects are deployed on a plane with no sense of perspective, and therefore, the audience can approach them freely to interpret them for themselves. The subject is not expressed centering around a single object. Every object is arranged on an equal footing to be interpreted naturally in terms of daily routine. And there is no perspective. The forms viewed from side and those from above are shown on the same canvas simultaneously. Namely, objects are just arranged or drawn as if they were scribbled.

On the other hand, scratching is a core of his expression. For example, he paints a dark base color first on the canvas and then, paints the white color thereupon. And before the white color has dried up, various images and drawings are revealed in lines or planes of the base color. Next, he adds colors partially to the canvas to vary the expressions. A line is expressed as a stroke just as in calligraphy, and further as in drawing.

If we look closely at Choi Woolga's world of works, we can see to it that he arranges various objects such as men, animals, machines, etc., randomly to unfold the looks of daily routine like diaries. Through such expression, Choi Woolga delivers to us a message that all objects are equal and that life is a careful balance among the objects interrelated with each other.

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