Return of the Real
In Return of the Real, I present a series of paintings which portray tensions in brutal boxing, mixed martial art, and wrestling matches. The extreme moments of being punched, choked and kicked are transferred into thought-provoking events through the painting process. These images can be uncomfortable and traumatic, yet they may be able to provide us an opportunity to rethink our lives in a different way. I seek to express the struggle and knocks of everyday life through this symbol of the fight, showing a moment of dynamic action, frozen in time, with complete engagement of the protagonists.
The fight image symbolises events which can lead to inevitable changes in our lives. This is similar to the circulation of the material energies of Yin and Yang in Taoist philosophy. In terms of the colour choices, red represents active energy of Yang (male) and blue (female) symbolises receptive energy of Yin, and together they shape our lives and natural world through complementary interconnections. I combined Korean ink and colored painting techniques together for my new paintings to experiment with their incompatible material characteristics in an entirely new and different way.
The title of this show originated from the article titled Return of the Real by the American art critic and historian Hal Foster. Informed by his critiques on the 20th century post-war avant-garde art, the notion of the traumatic real in Abject Art[i] has been an influence on my art practice since I was working in San Francisco in 2013. Through my PhD research into the aesthetics of French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze, I have developed the concept of the Real which is ultimately affirmative and transferable. In Deleuze's Transcendental Realism, art is provisionally defined as Agencement machines[ii] which operate by connecting different fields and giving the connected assemblage an entirely new sense through experimental processes.
Dr Young Maeng was born in South Korea and has twenty years working experience as a practicing artist. She has been living and working in Lancaster after finishing her art practice-based PhD research in Contemporary Art at Lancaster University. She studied Korean painting for her undergraduate and graduate studies at Kyung Hee University in Korea, and earned her second MFA in Painting at San Francisco Art Institute in 2013. She has exhibited internationally including at the Sejong Museum in Korea, Diego Rivera Gallery in San Francisco and Peter Scott Gallery in Lancaster.
[i] Abject art is used to describe artworks which explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety particularly referencing the body and bodily functions (Tate definition)
[ii] The term assemblage, in a philosophical sense, originally stems from the French word agencement, whose meaning translates narrowly to English as "arrangement", "fitting, or "fixing". Agencement asserts the inherent implication of the connection between specific concepts and that the arrangement of those concepts is what provides sense or meaning. Assemblage, on the other hand, can be more accurately described as the integration and connection of these concepts and that it is both the connections and the arrangements of those connections that provide context for assigned meanings.