Heo Eun-young, Caring for the Soul
The mind is the most deepest part of self that directs and holds the whole man together. It is in centric place of responsibility that undertakes households of humans. Therefore, the things that fulfill the mind rule the actions. There is no question about the fact that had the action be interfered by the mind, it pursues for something true, however, had it be interfered by greed, it pursues for something false. Actions change by what the mind possesses. From that point of view, mind is like a vein of gold inside the world’s mystery rock caves.
Heo Eun-Young invites us to the world of the mind. She unfolds the undefiled innocent world in front of our eyes. It is like looking at a scene outside the window, that is, the white snow that has embroidered the land in white during the night, after waking up from bed when we were children. I remember the unexpected caller of snowflakes had rummaged through my mind so much at that time. I believe that anyone who has had such experience would be able to understand the atmosphere which her works possess.
Looking through her works, we can see that boxes of various sizes are being placed unfailingly. The artist uses the canvas as a support for piling up layers of Hanjis(Korea Traditional Paper) which she afterwards puts the box of Hanji on the part where it has been cut into a rectangular shape in the canvas or glues the structure under it so that the inside of the box can be seen. One or two boxes or even more of them are piled up in this method.
The artist calls this solid box “the container which fills in personal memories or suggestive records of experience”. In other words, she recognizes it as “a storeroom of the mind”. It not only takes in the “depth of memory” but it is a precious place which fills the “energy of the soul”. It is where the human code of order is in command and is directed, controled. and originated. It is a kind of a headquarter that handle actions, emotions and thoughts.
However, there is one strange thing that can be confirmed. The boxes’ interiors and the exteriors are surrounded by layers of boundaries. The boundaries are so clear that sympathy between inside and outside is impossible, moreover, the many papers pile up so that boundaries themselves form firm layers. Furthermore, the surface is covered with scratches and the lines are drawn like spider webs or they are bulging as if dregs are gathered together. At a glance, the first impression of the peaceful surface falls back and delivers a sense of a certain story it might possess. We can see that it is a trace made intentionally, not by coincidence.
The message which the artist tries to tell lies here. The artist calls this the “wrinkles”, and this wrinkles are images that emblem life in summary. Like the wrinkles on a face, the textures of a rock, and the stratigraphic patterns prove to be a footmark of their lives, her ‘wrinkles’ exhibit history and time of the self. Likewise, the wrinkles of a box imply ‘a certain wall’ built in the interior of the self. It may be a sense of alienation driven from being alone and unaided, or it may be a restrain of a painful story or a distorted mind. The artist exposes the box to the exterior and illuminates the ‘the diseased part’ intentionally. People are diseased inside but considers it to be something insignificant or they are reluctant to show it because of their fear for the eyes of other people. In fact, we are not ready to accept the pains of other people. Therefore, it has been long since we had handed over the work of sharing and relieving or removing pain into the hands of professionals.
This is not the first time the artist worked on the symptoms of the mind as a theme. In the beginning of the year 2000, she sung about the preciousness of life observing on seeds. At the time, she used rich colors and worked on art pieces based on a series of ecological process which the seeds sowed on the underground overcome the cold to ascend to the surface of the earth and shoot out buds to ultimately grow into a dignified tree with exuberant leaves and achieve abundant fruition. Of course, such ecological interest of the artist was not on its physiology. The process of the seed of life, sowed into fertile land to become a strong tree and fructify, show humans’ ‘spiritual maturity’ and the ‘grace of God’.
The artist appoints metaphors without fail these days. In her works, the box is ‘the mind’, the paper layers are ‘the wounds’, the inarticulate stitches, the knots and etc on the surfaces is ‘the act of adjusting the interior’ that is insecure and negative, the white background is ‘the space of reality’ that has nowhere to depend on like a desolate plain, the wrinkles in the background means the stained ‘life in poverty’.
From a certain point of view, recent works may seem to have stepped backwards compared to the earlier works. It is because the earlier works are hopeful and positive, whilst the recent works may seem pessimistic and negative. However, the truth is different. The point which Heo Eun-Yong wishes to emphasize is not on ‘the wound itself’ but on ‘healing’ and ‘recovery’. In order to talk about healing, one must reveal the problem, therefore, it mobilizes desperate countermeasures that expose inner injuries and festered parts first. Layering the Hanjis, piling up square boxes of Hinji into several layers and protecting the inside of the square, to console and gather one’s wound with stitching methods, hallmark images of the hands that sometimes beg, pray, and console is no other than a positive gesture that enables us to move forward into ‘a sound life’.
A new vision opens up when one realizes the importance of taking care of the soul that live inside the body than restoring our bodies into the condition of the earth. Not only does the world of creation expand more but life is given to art itself with true meanings. Heo Eun-Young significantly implies to us the fact that managing our minds is an urgent task that cannot be postponed any longer.
/ Seo, Sung-rok (Department of Fine Arts at Andong University)