The works seem to breathe through the delicate spaces of the grid that also reflect soft shadow to the canvas. Together they depict light and dark, and certain rhythm like the major and minor scales from music. Light shines not only on the surface, but further penetrates through the work, like a reflection from a stain glass, creating translucency. Such element dilutes the rigidness of the canvas and unveils the hidden material finally transcend to sublimity.
-Excerpted from the text by Okyang Chae in Chung Sang Hwa, The Depth of Surface,
published by Hakgojae, 2007, to accompany the exhibition Process
Chung Sang-Hwa is the master of Dansaekhwa; the Korean Monochrome art movement. Born in 1932, Yeongdeok in Korea, he studied BFA in painting at the Seoul National University. After graduation, he moved to Japan in 1967 and then to Paris in 1977. Since 1970s, he removed the figurative elements and tried to approach to the philosophical introspection through his repetitive action. He embodies in the western minimalism and expresses the eastern sentiment by generating harmonized space with the property of material and rigorous performance.
His painting is created by 'tearing-off' and 'filling-in'. First, he covers the canvas with a paint that mixed with kaolin and glue in a thickness of 3-4mm. After it completely dries, he folds the canvas in vertical and horizontal in which makes the checkboard pattern. It creates cracks on canvas and he tears off some paints. Then, he fills in the canvas with acrylic. He repeats this process innumerably. The acrylic permeates or crumbles into irregular space and each grid becomes the unique shape. The canvas looks very simple in monotone but filled with different grids at the same time. Ultimately, his monotone doesn't aim for simplicity but shows that a solid color could have diverse representation.
His work requires the rigorous calculation and intensive performance. It considers repetitive process as being very important that could finally complete the painting by building up many layers with great consistency. His repetitive action implies the meaning of the painting. After all, his vision is to find the fundamental and philosophical meaning in which lies beyond the repetitive modern people's life. Moreover, his canvas is not the inorganic flat plane, but the breathing source, the organic surface.
His paintings are in the collections of many famous museum including Guggenheim Museum, New York; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; Korea, Fukuoka City Art Museum; Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Tokyo, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, and more.