These paintings by Korean artist, Park Seo-Bo, aim
‘to create pure emptiness.’
They all consist of pencil lines worked into the monochrome painted surface, done in a single sitting before the paint dries. The gallery notes assert that Park ‘eliminates any form of gesture, focusing instead on a dynamic continuity …’ I disagree with this completely. I think that all the rhythmic movement involves gesture and the pencil marks are undoubtedly generated through bodily, physical movement. It’s true that the dominant feeling is of repetition and rhythm, rather than a single physical gesture; but that’s a different point.
The obvious comparator is Agnes Martin, but these paintings have a greater sense of freedom and are not so obviously obsessive. I think they tell you less about the painter’s state of mind. But they are equally carefully made, for instance with ruled square grids and careful rules of making to achieve different effects.
The painting below with the loose diagonal lines also shows bands of lighter and darker tone. This is because the horizontal bands of lines overlap and where they do, they are darker simply because there are two sets of pencil marks, but also because they disturb the paint more. What makes these gestural marks for me is that the scale of the marks is linked to the artist’s hand and body size.