Since the prehistoric cave paintings, art has evolved tremendously. There have been a lot of revolutionary events in the history of art since the blooming of civilization. Now we live in this new era where the term of art, ‘representation’ means different from what it meant in the past. Certainly, what it meant in the Classical period and why it appealed to people at that time remained a mystery despite numerous studies about it. In the early 5th century Greek artists began to render human and animal forms realistically. As the sculptures for the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and those of Parthenon evolved and were replaced by a more idealized realism, what people at that time tried to represent was reality but was more about the ideals that they had, which appeared to look very realistic. The art term, ‘representation’ has evolved so much in the practice of art that the meaning of it now encompasses lots of phenomena in art.
‘Representation’ has been an important term in the history of Western art. When making artworks or something that we consider art now, people in the old times might have wanted to be one with the universe and represent their longing for gods with whom they wouldn’t need a certain religion or language or any other means for communication. The ghost of it still affects a lot of artists today who have to face the horror of the blank canvas. The advance of technology has made a lot of artists excited or depressed, but it certainly made every artist find his or her own way of making a work of art. An artist, Mijeong Hwang also has been walking silently on her path of building her own art world. One reason why we should pay attention to her artwork is that she never forgets what she uses.
Namjune Paik, who was a pioneer of video art, is known for what he did in terms of technology. Making his own sculptures with TV boxes, he taught us a new perspective of art. However, ‘the advance of technology’ makes a lot of artists today feel uncomfortable while they sit in front of their old easel, thinking of what to do with technology with the haunting of art history. For them, the space of their canvas has a reality, which can be, in a way, much more important than anything else. A lot of them are like the emperors in the old times who carved their name on the statue of their predecessors. Maybe those first photographers who used photography as a means of developing portrait were quite radical compared to artists today who have to seek the identity of painting on their own.
Mijeong Hwang has been vigorously studying the art supplies that she uses. For her, painting is a choice that she makes with her life. Despite lots of media that a painter can borrow, she spends all of her energy on experimenting with oil paints, solvents like turpentine and linseed oil, etc., which a lot of artists these days still can’t ignore easily. She reminds me of artists of Impressionism, making me imagine those artists’ excitement of being away from their studio and painting in fresh air with the aid of the new paint tube, which must have been a great revolution for them. Like the impressionist, Claude Monet was able to make each of the paintings of ‘Haystacks’ different from one another and develop his own way of conveying light and color with the aid of the paint tube, she makes the flowers in her painting look alive with her own principles of painting.
A lot of artists have been making paintings of flowers as we compare a beautiful person to a flower. It is lovely that she thinks of people while she makes her paintings of flowers. Each bud of them can be one of us. Looking at the pure pink, pale blue and purple beautifully painted on the leaves and the spot of reflected light, I imagine how hard it is to decide the exact color for a personified flower. The efforts she makes to harmonize them could be the reason why her painting should be considered different from other Korean paintings of flowers and fruits, about which critics often mention hyperrealism.