유 권 열 - 아틀란티스와 아내의 방, 이상향의 계기들

2012. 7. 4- 2012. 7. 22



아틀란티스와 아내의 방, 이상향의 계기들

고충환 (미술평론)

유권열은 1997년 중앙미술대전에서, 그리고 연이은 1998년에는 가나가와 국제 판화 트리엔날레에서 각각 대상을 수상했다. 특히 중앙미술대전에서 판화로 대상을 수상한 것은 이례적인 일이다. 돌이켜보면 그의 그림은 판화로서보다는 판화를 넘어서는 회화적 성과로 보였고, 판화의 장르적 특수성에 대한 선입견을 무색하게 하는 형식실험과 완성도가 평가를 받았을 것이다. 그 선입견에 따르자면 흔히 판화는 상대적으로 작은 화면과 한정된 평면 내에서 밀도감 있는 이미지를 만들어내는 것일 터이다. 그런데 작가의 그림은 작지도 않고 평면적이지도 않다. 입체의 틀을 만든 연후에 그 위에 판화를 붙이고, 여기에 오브제를 도입해 부가한 그의 그림은 무슨 입체 조형물처럼 평면 위로 돌출돼 보인다. 판화를 조각내 재구성한다는 것은 당시로선 생각하기 어려운 발상이었고, 게다가 회화로선 불가능한 섬세한 디테일이며 표면질감이 살아있는 그림이 판화와 회화를 종합하거나 그 모두를 넘어서는 제 삼의 어떤 지점을 짚어내고 있다는 생각이다. 크기와 입체를 매개로 판화의 표현영역을 확장하고, 섬세한 디테일을 수단으로 회화의 빈 곳을 파고든 것이 주효했다는 생각이다.
그리고 이후 작가는 판화와 회화와 혼합매체 작업을 두루 아우르면서 현재에 이르고 있다. 판화 고유의 미감이 여실하면서도 그 장르적 특수성에 한정되지 않는 자신만의 지점과 좌표를 찾아가고 있는 중이다. 비록 외관상의 주제와 소재는 달라졌지만, 그 형식은 이렇듯 진즉에 세팅된 틀을 상당정도 유지하면서 그 틀 내에서 일정한 변주와 심화를 꾀하고 있다는 생각이다.

아틀란티스, 잃어버린 이상향과 생활 속의 이상향을 찾아서. 사람들은 저마다 머릿속에 혹은 마음속에 이상향 하나씩 쯤 가지고 있기 마련이다. 여차하면 현실로부터의 도피를 감행하게 해주고 안주할 수 있게 해주는 피난처 같은 곳이다. 마음속의 골방 같은 곳이라고나 할까. 철학자들은 이런 이상향을 꿈꾸었고, 사상가들은 유토피아가 지상에 실현될 수 있다고 믿었다. 철인정치의 이상향을 꿈꾼 플라톤이 기록으로 남긴 덕에 그 실체가 알려진 유토피아가 바로 아틀란티스다. 아틀란티스는 초고대문명으로 알려진, 알 수 없는 어떤 이유로 전체가 심해에 가라앉은 것으로 전해지는 전설상의 대륙이다. 아틀란티스가 이상향을 상징했고, 대륙과 함께 이상향이 가라앉았다는 것은 암시적이다. 이를테면 유토피아는 현실에서는 존재할 수가 없는, 인간이 자신의 욕망을 투사한, 인간이 머리로 그려낸 일종의 관념상임을 말해준다. 그리고 아틀란티스는 심해로 가라앉았다. 심해란 그 깊이를 헤아릴 수 없는 인간의 심연을 상징한다. 사람들은 저마다 심연 저 밑바닥에 이상향 하나씩을 꽁꽁 숨겨놓고 있는 것이다.
유권열은 이처럼 심해에 가라앉은 아틀란티스 대륙을 건져 올린다. 그것은 사실 심연으로부터 건져 올린 자신의 욕망이며 이상에 다름 아니다. 이상은 이상다워야 한다. 현실원칙으로부터 자유로우며 현실원칙에 의해 훼손되지 않아야 한다. 현실이 카오스라면, 코스모스로 그 카오스를 재정비할 수가 있어야 한다. 이상이란 결국 자기 마음속에 일종의 내적질서를 구축해내는 일이며, 우주를 세우는 일이다.
그렇다면 이때의 우주는 어떻게 표상될 수가 있는가. 그 우주에 어떻게 형상을 부여해줄 수가 있는가. 그 표상형식을 위해서 상징과 도상이 도입된다. 그래서 작가의 그림은 상징성이 강하고 도상성이 강하다. 상징성과 도상성으로 치자면 종교적 아이콘이 그 전형에 해당한다. 그래서 작가의 그림은, 특히 그 형식이 흡사 종교적 아이콘을 보는 것 같다. 이렇게 그려진 아이콘은 중심성이 강한 구도와 엄격한 좌우대칭으로 인해 흐트러짐이 없고 시선을 곧장 사로잡는다. 그리고 프레임은 무슨 관문 같고 통로 같다. 현실과 내세를, 의식과 무의식을, 일상과 이상을, 현재와 과거를(그리고 현재와 미래를) 가름하는 경계와도 같은 것이다. 이 세상에서 저 세상으로 건너가게 해주는 통과의례며 거듭나기의 제의를 도상화한 그림 정도로 볼 수가 있겠다. 흑백 모노톤 화면으로 인해 더 강조돼 보이는 어둠, 흡사 심연과도 같은 어둠을 헤집어 작가는 자신만의 유토피아며 성좌를 발굴해내고 있는 것이다.
기왕의 작업에 나타난 이런 상징성이며 도상성, 특히 형식은 이후 적어도 외관상 이상적이기보다는 일상적인, 관념적이기보다는 현실적인 주제와 소재를 다룬 다른 그림들에서도 상당할 정도로 지속되고 심화되고 변주되고 있다는 생각이다. 이상향은 형이상학적 주제다. 그리고 일상성은 형이하학적 주제다. 그러므로 아틀란티스 이후 작가의 그림은 형이상학으로부터 형이하학으로, 이상으로부터 일상으로, 관념철학으로부터 생활감정으로 그 패러다임이 이동하고 있는 것으로 볼 수도 있겠다. 어쩌면 인간은 일상으로부터 자유로울 수 없다는 점에서, 그래서 여하한 경우에도 일상 속에서 이상을 추구할 수밖에 없다는 점에서 작가가 새롭게 주목한 일상은 일상 자체에 머물기보다는 그 자체 또 다른 유토피아며 이상향일지도 모른다. (이하 생략)

 

Atlantis and Room of My Wife, Motives for Ideal Pursuits

Kho Chung-Hwan, Art Critic

Yu Kwon-Yeol was awarded the grand prize at Joongang Grand Exhibition in 1997 and the following year, 1998, he was once again awarded the grand prize at Kanagawa International Print Triennial. Since the honor of the grand prize is not often granted to any printing art work, it was unprecedented for him to be awarded the grand prize at Joongang Grand Exhibition. In retrospect, his works were appreciated as the fine art masterpieces that transcended the realm of printing art. His successful experiment with the forms that overcame prejudices against the characteristics of printing as an art form must have been widely recognized. According to those prejudices, printing is generally regarded as the art that creates dense images within the framework of relatively small screen and limited flat surface. However, his works are not only limited to small screen, but to flat surface. His works where he placed his prints in the frame and added various objects to the prints look projected on the flat surface like some three dimensional models. His conception of dividing a print into parts and reorganizing them was received as quite original at the time and furthermore, the delicate details, which is almost impossible in paintings, and vivid surface textures of his works indicate more than the simple integration of printings and paintings, The composition of his experimental works reached up to a third coordinate which transcended mere sum total. He expanded the realm of expression by printing, employing size and three dimensions and penetrated the void inside paintings with delicate details, which played a pivotal role for the intended effects. Since then, the artist has been creating his works, experimenting with various mixed media crossing over between printing and painting. He expresses the aesthetic senses unique to printing in his works, but do not allow his works to be limited to the characteristics of printing as a particular genre, moving forward in his search for the coordinates of his own. The subjects and objects of his works have been through various changes on the outside, but much of the forms from his previous works have been maintained. He seems to have attempted certain variations and deepening of the recurring theme.
Atlantis; In search of the lost ideal and the ideal in everyday living. It is safe to say that everyone has his or her own ideal in his or her mind or heart. That is the place of refuge where we could go and rest when we want to run away from our realities in this world. It is like the room of our own in the deepest of our hearts. Philosophers dreamed about these ideal places and thinkers believed that such Utopia could be realized on this earth. Atlantis is the Utopian civilization and its presence became known thanks to the account of Plato who dreamed about the ideal of politics by the philosophers. Atlantis, an ancient civilization, is the legendary continent that has been said to have sunk into deep seas for the reason not known. Atlantis symbolized an unreachable ideal place. The fact that the ideal sank with the continent implies symbolic meaning. Utopia is said to be conceptual image which was created by human’s imagination and projected by human desire. Utopia cannot exist in reality. And the untopian Atantis sank into the deep seas. The deep seas symbolize the unmeasurable abyss in human minds. People have their own utopian Atlantis very much hidden in the bottom of their own abyss within their hearts. Yu Kwon-Yeol attempted to deliver the continent Atlantis from the bottom of the deep seas where it sank. But, what he took out of the deep sea water was his desire that is, in fact, inseparable from his utopian ideal. The ideal should be ideal. It should be free from and not be damaged by the principles governing realities. If the present realities were chaos, chaos could be organized by cosmos. Ultimately, the ideal can be said to establish a certain inner order and thereby build the cosmos within the mind of the person who holds the ideal. If that is the case, how can the cosmos can be represented or symbolized? How can any contextual frame be provided to the cosmos? That was why certain symbols and schemas were introduced to express the frame of representation. The artist’s works have shown powerful symbolism and schematism. Religious icons are typical prototypes. Therefore, the artist’s works are similar to religious icons in terms of the schematic forms. Such icons immediately attract our attention without any distraction due to centered composition and strict symmetry. Frames can be seen as a gate or a passageway. The gate or the passageway acts like the border that divides between current realities and the next life, consciousness and subconsciousness, everyday living and ideal, the present and the past, and the present and the future. His works are intended as rites of passage that take you from this life to the other life and therefore can be interpreted as schematized ritual for our rebirth. Darkness is accentuated by a black and white monotone screen. Out of the darkness that looks like bottomless abyss, the artist excavated his own utopia and ark. Such symbolism and schematism as shown in his previous works, especially his schematic forms have been maintained, deepened in meaning and used as themes for variations in his works that deal with everyday living and realistic subjects and objects rather than idealistic and conceptual. An ideal is a metaphysical subject. Every day reality is a concrete and physical subject matter. The artist has been shifting the paradigm in his works from metaphysics to concreteness, from ideal to every day realities and from conceptual philosophy to feeling of everyday living. The everyday realities to which the artist paid newly found attention may be another utopia and ideal rather than remain just part of everyday living in that humans were, are and will never be free from everyday realities and they only can pursue their ideals among everyday realities under any circumstances.
The room of his wife, the scent of his wife and love letters dedicated to her. She is not there in her room. It has been long since she’s been gone. However, it feels like she is here in her room now because she left her scent as part of her. Strictly speaking, the scent of his wife belongs to the artist himself than to her. It is the scent conjured up by the artist in his minds rather than the real scent of his wife. The scent that turned her absence into his longing for her and her absence into her imaginary presence only in his minds; His wife should be here in her room. That’s why the artist has been drawing on all the still objects and parts of things in her room. However, he finds himself feeling her presence while he is immersed in his drawing of the objects in her room. Ironically, he feels her presence ever more clearly at her absence in more vivid way than when she was really here in her room. Absence has its void. The void needs to be filled with his imagination. He filled the void with his deep longing for his wife. His wife’s imaginary presence at her absence feels even stronger than ever before with his heartfelt longing for her. Such longing for her transforms absence into strongly felt presence like magic. That’s the way her absence has been utilized in his works. His works have landscapes as in Asian black ink paintings, the objects of his works he found in the transformation process are more of still life or part of everyday living things. You can find the platform like a dressing table in his work and still life objects are neatly placed on top of it. There are some exceptions, but most of his works attract immediate attention to centered composition and strict symmetrical schema. Those strictly schematic attempts in his works let quiet and meditative force flow throughout his works. As if time were completely stopped as in the stuffed specimen, it seems that perpetual flow of eternity stops at the moment when the works were created. His wife’s imaginary presence veils over everyday still life objects, transforming them into ideal still life objects and landscapes in his minds. The artist seems to pay his tribute to the newly transformed sacred everyday realties. That seems to be the reason the artist engraved GRACE in the front face of the platform that reminds us of a dressing table. (In some works, the word Atlantis can be found.) The still life objects he paints can be interpreted as the embodiment of his absent wife and his longings for her as well. A butterfly, like a message his wife could have sent, is fluttering in front of the embodiment. His works can be seen as usual still life paintings. However, the artist transforms those ordinary still life paintings by completely coloring them with the veil of his personal feelings and experiences. He points to certain aesthetic coordinates where universality and peculiarity, and objectivity and subjectivity converge into one. While reflecting on a series of his still life paintings created by his heartfelt longing for his wife, one cannot help feeling that there could be no better love letters than these works….


유 권 열 Yu-Kwon Yeol

1968~ 전북 남원출생
1995 뉴욕주립대학교(New Plaltz) 하계 돌석판화과정 연수
1997 홍익대학교 미술대학 판화과 졸업
2000 홍익대학교 미술대학원 판화전공 졸업

개인전
2012 제11회 개인전 - 갤러리 도올 초대전 - 서울
2011 제10회 개인전 - 갤러리 도올 초대전 - 서울
2006 제 9회 개인전 - 마니프‘12 기획초대전 - 예술의전당 - 서울
2003 제 8회 개인전 - 갤러리 도올 초대전 - 서울
2003 제 7회 개인전 - 마니프‘10 기획초대전 - 예술의전당 - 서울
2002 제 6회 개인전 - 갤러리 도올 초대전 - 서울
2000~‘97 개인전 6회 - 서울

수 상
2003 타일랜드 국제 판화 드로잉전 <매입상> - 방콕 - 타일랜드
2002 송은 미술대상전 <지원상> - 공평아트센터 - 서울
1998 가나가와 국제 판화 트리엔날레 <대 상> - 요코하마 - 일본
1997 중앙미술대전 <대 상> - 호암갤러리 - 서울

국제전
2012 7-th Novosibirsk International Biennial of Contemporary Graphic Art 2012
Novosibirsk State Art Museum - RUSSIA
2011 제5회 한, 중 대학판화 교류전 - 홍익현대미술관 - 서울