Young La Park. The Line as Metaphor
Young La Park’s works exert an evocative power. At first glance there is not much to be seen on her works on canvas or paper – a few lines seek their path, here and there bundles of vibrant lines emerge from the picture depth – yet they contain an entire cosmos. The ground remains white; only rarely are small areas defined in pastel tones. Reduction and restraint characterize the abstract repertoire. Nevertheless every line obeys its own expressive force. This can be of a dynamic vitality, it can appear immediate and static, or it can transmit a sense of almost faltering forward movement. The line might end abruptly, or become denser, or subtly trail away. Sometimes it intersects, as a counterpoint, a delicate web; or it might become denser, forming a darker web of tiny, agitated hatching.
Pencil, charcoal and ballpoint pen are used to translate inner movements into graphic notations. Ground and motif are always brought into a perfectly balanced but nonetheless dynamic composition. The prevailing emptiness of the picture space is a prerequisite, necessary for the sparingly applied gestures to unfold their intensive effect.
Associations with plant life arise again and again. Branches and foliage seem to emerge, an apparent thicket blocks the view, liana hang down from above. Clouds, water, fog and light reflections also seem to be portrayed. But if one tries to capture a motif concretely, it eludes the eye; the presumed object dissolves, receding into a non-existent picture space. This motif-related interpretation may derive from a fundamental need for orientation and classification on the part of the beholder. Such a concretization of what is visible on the canvas is not the artist’s intention. Her concern is with greater correlations that are not held to the depiction of ostensible phenomena.
According to Young La Park, the line discloses itself to her as she works. She waits in an attitude of tranquility, always keyed to her inner voice, for appropriate impulses, which she records. She sees herself as the executing organ of a stream of information, on the origins of which she ha=s no direct influence.
Her own description places Young La Park in a long tradition that includes various important precursors in abstract art after the Second World War. Nonetheless Young La Park’s art differs fundamentally from these works. The manifestation of an inner process was of great significance in particular for European painters after World War II. Many of them placed the value of personal experience above socio-political responsibility. Events during the Nazi period and the war had prompted them to turn away from reality and to experience a deeper meaning in a confrontation with their own selves. In this context the works of an artist like Bernard Schultze, for example, can also be understood as psychic introspection, where his linear branchings attain their goal in this self-expression.
Cy Twombly’s compositional principle – a planar ground furnished with abbreviated, script-like marks – could also have had a formative effect for Young La Park. But whereas Twombly’s cryptic representations are associated with concrete historical content, with Young La Park the point of departure and the intent have a completely different basis. She assigns a universal meaning to the line. In a way, for her the line is the potential expression of all visible phenomena. The line is inherently able to describe the world in its elements and living forms, whether mountains, plants, organisms or man-made products. According to her convictions, every object expresses itself in a specific way; thus Young La Park calls her pictorial worlds “Specific Objects.” She wants to probe this “specific-ness” with the help of the line. When the artistic process is concluded and the perfect line is found, the essence of what is represented is reflected in the line. Thus she is not concerned with the thing itself, but rather with its content, an approach that had to lead logically to abstraction. The line has become a metaphor and can now bring different existential experiences to expression: the emergent, the bowed, the upright, the dormant, the inert, the impulsive, the dynamic and more. At the same time these lines can be read as energetic traces, since everything that exists sends out vibrations; this is just as true for material objects as it is for living things of all kinds or for information that is transmitted on the basis of waves. Even acts and deeds leave traces in the sphere of neuro-physiology; our life is inscribed in our biographies as well as in those of the people around us. The quality of this energetic exchange differs, as divergent as the graphic movements captured by Young La Park.
Young La Park’s work process recalls Wassily Kandinsky, who developed a metaphor of color and form and interpreted the world using synesthetic effects. It is known that he saw analogies between music and the visual arts and searched for a way to represent the “spiritual in art” (1911). Kandinsky attributed specific properties to colors, which, in combination with selected forms, were capable of capturing mental conditions. In this way he was able to make fundamental existential statements, independent from representation or narrative. Young La Park pursues quite similar aims, but uses a different artistic repertoire which accords precedence to the graphic composition.
The two artists are also linked by the fact that each is oriented to a reality beyond that which is outwardly perceivable. With Young La Park the emptiness of the picture surface also reflects Taoist doctrine, according to which the world behind appearances can become manifest only in immersion and unintentionality. Thus the outward emptiness of the canvas corresponds with an inner emptiness, which creates distance from the bustle of all worldly things. Only he who embarks on this trip will be rewarded by a wealth that is not to be found in material things, but rather is revealed in the certainty of inexhaustible potential. In Young La Park’s more recent works on canvas, areas of pastel colors appear now and again. These signify more than merely a modification in her pictorial media because with this the white background surface expands into an indeterminate spatial depth. Our notion of the world does not help us to decipher this situation because Euclidian space has apparently been relinquished. In its place, however, we find a dimension of depth behind the play of lines that is decisive for understanding Young La Park’s work. This dimension makes it clear that we are glimpsing a world of enhanced perceptual potential that seeks the essence behind the phenomena.