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Youngjae Oh

[artist's note]
My interest in the ancient practice of pictographs, or amulets, is not only because of the outward appeal of the images, but also because of the mystery of their symbolic composition. Due to the shamanistic nature of amulets, where the images themselves exert some sort of magical power, they have been downplayed as magical tricks and superstitions, and their aesthetic world has not received the attention it deserves. Out of a vague fascination and interest, I began to study amulets in a sculptural way, and discovered that they contain a whole universe within them, filled with aesthetic materials of the highest refinement and beauty.

Rooted in magical mysticism, the images of pictograms are an aesthetic manifestation of human creativity and have the power to connect the human spirit with the material world. Images of archetypes handed down from ancient times, symbols of concepts that symbolically illustrate the principles of creation of all things in the universe, abstract shapes based on human intuition of the invisible world, such as the flow of chi... Amulets made up of images of these symbols are an original art that makes the invisible world visible through the exercise of human imagination. In particular, in its creative sculptural principle, there is a creative and unconventional sculpture that is being tried in various ways in contemporary art. This means that there are infinite possibilities that can be reborn as a new sculpture outside of any fixed framework that is outdated.

My work is a creative attempt to present a new world of beauty by reinterpreting pictograms, which have travelled a long way from ancient times, in a modern visual language. Despite the abundance of visual images, modern people are constantly hungry for new forms of art. Due to the multimedia art environment that combines different elements such as images, text, and sound, contemporary art seeks new ways of looking, new ways of reading, and new ways of listening. Unlike in the past, contemporary art now actively utilises non-linear, interactive and integrated media such as video media, the internet and mobile phones, including temporality. In today's digital media environment, where a complex convergence of media is taking place, amulets have infinite possibilities to develop into a new art form through the sculptural dynamism of their symbolic representations, which move between pictures and text. As such, amulets as a symbolic sculptural language are an artistic language with vast potential to suggest new directions for contemporary art and expand its scope of expression.

Passed down through the millennia, pictograms hold a wealth of symbolic imagery. Their sculptural exploration is a new attempt to transform them into deep and delicate images that capture unique cultural sentiments. It is also a fascinating way to communicate with the invisible and mysterious energies of the universe through images. The creative challenge of exploring the fusion of various mediums and the new integration of secret pictogram images is a joyful play of discovering another world of time.

오영재(Youngjae Oh) 작가는 서울대학교에서 서양화, 미국 뉴욕대학교에서 컴퓨터아트로 석사를 졸업하였다. 80년대에 컴퓨터아트를 전공하며, 서양화적 그리기 방식을 컴퓨터에 접목하여 새로운 형태의 작업을 일찍이 선보였다. 작가의 모든 작품은 작가의 철학적 사고와 이해를 담고 있으며 작가만의 방법(또는 테크닉)으로 표현된다.

원시미술(primitive art)적 소재인 부적을 문자화하는 오영재 작가의 작품은 전통적인 주제의식을 담고 있으면서도, 물감과 캔버스 대신 컴퓨터의 모니터를 사용하는 현대적인 아트 형태를 특징으로 한다. 부적은 한국의 전통적인 민화작품에서도 익숙하게 보이는 소재이다.

우리나라의 선조들은 전통적으로 부적에 바램, 기원을 담은 다양한 문자를 반복하여 그려왔다. 또한 원시미술을 대표하는 라스코 동굴벽화를 살펴보면 성공적인 사냥을 기원하기 위해 소, 양 등을 벽에 그려넣은 것을 발견할 수 있다. 이후 이집트미술에서는 문자와 그림이 공존하며 시대를 거슬러 해석을 더욱 자유롭고 흥미롭게 해준다. 원시미술의 영향은 20세기에 들어서도 끊이지 않는다. 피카소는 ‘아비뇽의 처녀들’ 작품에서 원시미술의 테크닉을 과시하기도 했다.

오영재 작가는 가장 앞서있는 테크닉에 가장 오래된 원시적 소재를 선택하여 시공을 건너는 의미를 전달하고 있다. 과거나 현재나 미래에서나, 우리 모두의 기원은 평안을 향한 ‘복’이다.

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