The artist uses a natural panel with wood grains as canvas. Her artworks represent a unique surface made with 3-dimensional structure using various patterns and geometric compositions, rather than a 2-dimensional flat pictorial surface.
She placed mirrors on the side, the surface horizontally, and in the back of the wooden canvas. In this way, she holds landscape and stories in one box and invites viewers to observe inside and outside of the artwork as one continuous movement, as if she intends the visual effect of “Mobius strip”. This is a unique path that no one has ever tried, so the viewer will encounter a totally new artistic experience.
Using another method, the artist intrudes mirrors on the surface of painted landscape. The canvas can be seen as a horizontally long picture frame with the effect of panoramic views that resemble traditional eastern paintings captured in horizontally long plaques and traditional eastern folding screens. Mirrors that divide the canvas reflect different images at different angles depending on where the viewer stands and open up the new pictorial spaces.
Along the way the artist cites words from Zhuangzi saying, “although the creator sees the universe as a single unity, people discriminate and separate it into millions of different parts”. She says “when we drop the habit of being judgmental, our mind becomes a clear mirror, a state of no-self. We feel one with nature by being in absolute peace and harmony”. She says this is where her imagination takes place and begins to have a conversation with nature.
The artist intends to create artworks reflecting human life and mind in the order of Yin and Yang based on the philosophy of Chi (energy). Embedded in the Eastern concept of the universe, she lives through her body and mind with the aura of sky, earth, cloud, wind, water and the woods.
The artist infuses curiosity, excitement, and meaning by using the metaphor of human emotions such as happiness, anger, love, and pleasure while combining the mirror and the picture depicting wood grains on the surface. She believes that wood grains keep track of the secret codes of life such as birth, old age, sickness, and death caused by the energy of the universe.
The artist also mentions that she would like to convey the message, “the true nature of the human mind is absolutely empty and pure although people create delusions caused by their blind desires and obsessions.”
Wheiza Kim by Donald Kuspit
The tents innovatively extend Kim’s use of the shaped canvas into three dimensional space, making for works of art that are literally as well as metaphorically shelters. In previous works Kim has opened the canvas so that the space beyond is visible and becomes incorporated in the work, as a symbol of the infinite beyond suggested by the dramatic landscape pictured. In the tents, outer and inner space are united, that is the infinite has merged with the introspective. In sum, Kim has used her Buddhist heritage, and knowledge of the Oriental landscape tradition, to make meditative works that convincingly suggest the difficult spiritual passage from darkness to light, from ignorance to tranquil higher consciousness, from mundane existence to transcendental experience.
Donald Kuspit is an art critic and professor of art history and philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is a contributing editor at Artforum, Sculpture, and New Art Examiner magazines, the editor of Art Criticism, and the editor of a series on American Art and Art Criticism for Cambridge University Press.
I live in the woods near the ocean where the wind drifts around. While resting her exhausted body after traveling around the universe, the wind lets the woods hear the stories about the unknown world of distance. With a low-pitched whistling sound as if she sings the blues, she tells the woods how a life of a human being may be beautiful but also painful and how everything in the world is transient
The trees that have never been outside of the woods, and therefore, have always been lost in meditation, record every single word that they hear from the wind. Much like how people recorded the Analects in olden times.
When I discovered the records, which had been kept in a form of poetry and musical notation, printed on the trees like exquisitely constructed music sheets during the passage of time, woven by wefts and warps, I felt a quiver with joy and was deeply moved. The feeling was indescribable.
Just like millions of human beings have different fingerprints, each tree has its own unique grain pattern. My intention is to decipher ‘the message of the universe delivered by the wind which has been engraved in wood grains like some secret codes and then visualizeit
Using a natural wooden panel as my canvas, I created 3-dimensional space by placing mirrors in different angles. A metaphor of people’s minds, each mirror reflects different images depending on its location as well as the connecting paths created by the surface of the canvas, colored in accordance with the grain and its contacting sides.
As a result, I created an art piece that can be appreciated by people with multiple points of view depending on where they stand, the lighting situation they are engaged with, and how they think and feel.
I intended to convey the meaning of impermanence delivered by the wind that all of conditioned existence without exception is an illusion that can be fluctuated by a given condition and relationship, or a state of mind that interprets the situation.
Therefore, I produced the art piece that can create various uncertain stages with reflections of mirrors, which broke away from the general flat-surfaced canvas style.
Mirror as a Metaphor of Mind
A human mind is a state of absolute emptiness with a ‘no place, no time’ condition, just like how a mirror does not form an image without an object in front of it.
However, it is a metaphor of the human mind and mental factors called “O-Yok-Chil-Jung (five desires and seven emotions in Buddhism)” that create all kinds of delusion and obsession, therefore causing human suffering within “Hee-No-Ae-Rak (four major feelings a human has while living through a life) ”. I compared the true nature of human mind that is pure, still and serene to a mirror without an image.
Transcendence and the Möbius Strip
Wheiza Kim at Gallery d’Arte, Manhattan, USA
27 JAN 2016
by DANIEL GAUSS
(“My intention is to decipher the message of the universe delivered by the wind which has been engraved in wood grains like some secret codes, and then visualize it.”Wheiza Kim)
In the transcendentalist tradition of landscape painting, it was believed that the mind should not be considered to be separate from nature, and those painters attempted to create art showing or even inviting a union between the mind and nature. Science and its method seemed to call for a division and the union sought was, therefore, not mediated through the intellect, which allowed for the desecration and exploitation of the natural. Yet, we cannot deny the effect that our experiences and knowledge of nature have on us when we attempt to feel what the transcendentalists have always promised. When Walt Whitman wrote about abandoning the lecture of the learned astronomer in favor of gliding out into the “mystical moist air” and looking up “in perfect silence at the stars,” was nature going to silently infuse him with an awareness divorced from previous experience and knowledge or was his experience of the sublime going to be brought about through what he knew or wished to know about the world in the presence of the world?
Some interesting little boxes created by Wheiza Kim at Suechung Koh’s Gallery d’Arte can be considered a response to these questions. Over various landscapes she has the painted grids or lattices of windows, which are partly open, having lifted that segment of the landscape higher than its adjoining parts, creating a void. Looking into the void one sees a little area inhabited by figures reflected back to one through a mirror. So what does it mean to have a window that can be opened in these landscapes? What is that window, where does it come from, what does it reveal?
Kim, herself, told me she would like to offer the concept of a Möbius strip – that type of long strip which you slightly turn and attach end to end so that if an ant were to begin crawling on the strip it would cover both the front and back side in a theoretically endless loop of a journey. To me the windows opening the perceivable screen of nature might represent our discoveries and insights into nature through cognition and experience – ranging anywhere from the insights of Spinoza to the insights of Schopenhauer - and this means that in our attempt to get the message of the universe, the underlying essence of the world, we are directed back into a greater exploration of our own cognition, motivation, desire and emotion. We enter a type of Möbius strip process taking us outside and inside and back again, perpetually.
Kim explained that according to Zen masters, to attain a peaceful state, your mind has to be like a mirror, otherwise the mind becomes susceptible to a type of ‘attachment’ thinking or desire, which leads to emotional agony. Along with the little figures one also sees one’s own reflection through the open window, thus becoming a part of the piece of art. To Merleau-Ponty a subject looking at himself in a mirror experiences a ‘troubled form’ of self-knowledge in that he/she perceives him/herself from the perspective of the other and realizes the form of socializing coercive force used and sometimes embraced by the individual instead of a type of inner change and development which engenders its own momentum through self-observation. Schopenhauer believed the intellect to be a mirror to the ‘will’ allowing one’s will, itself, to move toward a greater sense of self-denial. To me, the mirror in these pieces by Kim questions the extent to which the external mirror of troubled identity or the inner mirror of cognition motivates self-development and change and to what extent change through the external mirror may actually be possible as well as the capacity of the will or aggression to ‘recognize’ itself and initiate its own change merely based on recognition of itself.
Among other pieces in the show are those in which Kim works with the natural grain of the wood to create landscape-like images. These pieces are often made to look like traditional Asian folding screens where mirrors stand in place of the hinges. Other works explore the symbolism of the triangle in relation to stupas, yoga and urban life. The triangle, of course, is one of the oldest symbols and may have taken its form as an abstraction of a mountain. In ancient times mountains were sacred areas and the higher you climbed, the farther you distanced yourself from the effects of others and the closer you approached the spirit realm. In Sumeria the upward pointed triangle represented ‘the masculine’ or an active principle of desire seeking its conjunction with the fulfilment of the feminine.
The triangle is, in itself, a little allegory (beginning, middle, end) encompassing the transience of movement or time with the permanence of change. In the inner core of these triangle pieces are three mirrors which create complex visual patterns, the mirrors representing the minds of three people – the very basic number of people, for instance, in computerized game theory experiments to approximate a basic social unit.
The show closed on Tuesday January 26th, but Suechung Koh can be reached email@example.com if you have any questions about viewing or purchasing Kim’s work, more of which will be on display soon in LA.
Daniel Gauss is the Proletarian Art Snob. He is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin and Columbia University and regularly treks around New York City