SPACE | DIFFERENCE | REPETITION
April 1, 2022 - May 7, 2022
A quiet order emanates from Eunji Seo's (*1984 Andong, South Korea) works, which move gently flickering, almost rhythmically even, through the room. The artist places her pictures on the borderline of human perception, so that the viewer has got to decide again and again between the process of seeing and the process of reading. At first glance, the monochrome works appear as symmetrical patterns, of flawless geometry. Even if her paintings allude to organic or geometric forms at first, technical details increasingly come to the fore with less distance to the canvas. A closer look reveals the artist’s individual graphite strokes and deliberately set spaces that she composes on a delicate grid of light grey coordinating dots. The more strokes the eye registers and thus automatically compares, the more obvious the subtle differences between the hand-drawn markings become.
Eunji Seo confronts the uniformity of her perfectionist formal language with the minimal irregularities of the individual line, the nucleus of the work's structure. It is precisely this focus on the composition of the smallest level that is reflected in work titles such as (6,10), +20 -20 or 1, 10, 2. The numbers stand for individual stroke lengths or positions or for distances on the initially empty grid. The grid and strokes are applied with the same mechanical pencil, which the artist always fills with the same pencil lead. For each constellation, Seo manually throws the dice to introduce the resulting number as a determinant into her meticulously planned system. Every addition, every sequence and subtraction are subject to strict rules. Part of the formula are inevitably the resulting omissions or spaces.
What all viewers see requires for all similar biological processes, such as the recognition of the individual strokes as whole images. But the classification of what is seen, and its interpretation differs from person to person. This repetitive deviation is also reflected in the almost endlessly repeated sequences of strokes when the lines (depending on their spacing) oscillate between uniform overall form and irregular fracture. The only aspect that Seo applies intuitively is the choice of background tonality, usually applied in many layers as a glaze. In this way, she enriches her system with the incalculable value of human experience. Her chosen colours refer to personal memories and emotions that Seo associates with each creative period. Some colours are dark or cool, others appear lighter and warmer – each of those colours mirror in periods in our lives. Without superstition and magical thinking, Eunji Seo uses the liberating moment of chance and lets it compete with her stoic regimentation. In this way, the artist also releases her images from their semiotic obligation.
Space and Painterly Action
Although the size of the works testifies to a fundamental need for physical presence, the formats do not impose themselves in the least. Quietly and steadily, Eunji Seo forces her canvases out of their two-dimensional purpose and allows them to open up new architectural space through concave shapes. Seo’s move away from flat canvases is most clearly expressed in the conspicuous group of three cylindrically mounted canvases. "Three is a stable number" Seo notes, whose departure from figurative painting already began in the mid-2010s and now ventures the next, larger step with the expansion onto the floor surface.
It is not the two-dimensionality itself that Seo negates with the expansion of the pictorial space, but the one-sided reading and viewing experience of the works associated with it. Instead of a juxtaposition of eye and image, the artist demands a change of perspective from the viewers and invites them to also re-perceive the works physically. It is now time for an interaction in the gallery space. In her own language, Eunji Seo even lets her pictures become bodies for this purpose. Anyone who explores the canvas columns from all sides quickly notices that their cylindrical form is not completely closed. So we are not dealing with a painting that poses as a column, but with a spatially conscious painting that reveals itself as such. The artist casually dismisses the paragone at this point, but rather provokes a justified tension between form and format.
From formula to deformation to format, Eunji Seo's painterly action demonstrate how big questions emerge from the small, balancing the fluid transitions of human perception. Eunji Seo's approach can be understood as a tightrope act between conformity and individuality. It is an attempt to create a balance in a cycle without a designated beginning and end point. Thus, together with the artist, we find ourselves in the middle of a process that visualises Gilles Deleuze's principle of repetition and difference in a formulaic way.
April 1, 2022 - May 7, 2022
Türkenstr. 32, 80335 Munich