Painter Toh Yun-hee remembers things by their colors. The artist does not hesitate to say that it is the colors she encounters that motivate her to paint on a canvas. When the colors become linked to his memories, occasions – or even phrases – that remain in his mind, they are expressed as paintings.
Toh unveiled 41 new paintings at Hyundai Gallery in Seoul, the main commercial art gallery in South Korea. The exhibition titled “Berlin” is her second at the gallery, following “Night Blossom” in 2015, where she showed paintings in subtle, muted colors and those she had painted with her fingers.
Since 2012, the 60-year-old artist has worked in Berlin, Germany, moving back and forth between Seoul. The latest exhibition shows the paintings created after the 2015 exhibition, some of which were done in Berlin and some in Seoul. Toh used bright, powerful colors in these paintings, a contrast to the works shown in his previous exhibition.
“Untitled” by Toh Yun-hee (Hyundai Gallery)
“Each color has a power of expression, no matter what color. Colors make me move (as an artist) and they become an image as soon as they are connected to my inner world,” Toh told Korea Herald at the gallery on February 8. “Sometimes I have to write down the colors right away it impressed me. Otherwise they are fleeting (from my memory). The images in my head that are combined with the colors come to life at any time – it could be when I’m washing my hair. Then I quickly draw the image with my fingers in the fogged up mirror to remind myself.
Toh’s artistic practice goes beyond the traditional act of painting. She evolved towards dynamic gestures: feeling, rubbing, dabbing, superimposing, splashing her paints, using her hands, the brush, the tip of a broken brush, a glass bottle, even a hammer. . The result is a visually powerful piece.
His new paintings also exhibit a materiality created by superimposed layers of color. From a distance, they can look like bouquets of colorful flowers or flowers reflecting on a river at sunset. She used bright and powerful colors such as red, yellow, blue and purple which seem eager to express herself.
Toh Yun-hee (Hyundai Gallery)
The artist sees his works as part of a “search process for the beauty hidden behind a phenomenon”. When asked if a person has their own color, Toh said she believes him. As for her, she has many colors that define her. “I don’t think I have just one color for me,” she said.
Toh is the granddaughter of Do Sang-bong (1902-1977), the famous modernist who pioneered Western-style painting in South Korea.
The exhibition runs through Sunday at the Hyundai Gallery in Jongno, central Seoul.