26 March 2024

Indefinable

WooJin Shin’s meditative paintings
meet between two worlds

 

by Kate Mothes

In the 1950s, an artistic movement formed in Korea around a wish to reconcile the influence of Western modernism on Korean artistic culture. Called Dansaekhwa, the style rejected representation and realism in a turn toward minimalist abstraction, favoring a totally monochrome style that emphasized the flatness of the surface.

Dansaekhwa resonates with Brooklyn-based artist WooJin Shin, who after moving to the U.S., navigates an identity that constantly vacillates between Western and Eastern cultural values. Mark-making and the layering of various mediums takes on a meditative quality, using the language of abstraction to convey the rolling, whirling rhythms of energy, water, or air. “I believe a deeper level of awareness of our surroundings is crucial at the current time, when we are relentlessly reshaping our environment by accelerating the development of technology,” the artist says.

Shin explores the essential relationships of tone and line in undulating black-and-white compositions. In the series Indefinable, a mysterious flow and depth emerges from a combination of graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, and colored pencil on mulberry paper and wood panel.

“In traditional East Asian paintings, dots and lines were the two fundamental components of an image,” Shin says, adding that this is one reason why ink paintings were often read as “drawings” by Western audiences. “The purpose of practicing mark-making in East Asia is derived from its cultural trait, which is to sympathize oneself with nature.”

Find more on the artist’s website and Instagram.

Forces hover around us, 2024. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on a wood panel, 60 x 48 inches
Erasure is a new departure, 2023. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on canvas over a wood panel, 24 x 18 inches
Left: A certain point of transition, 2023. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, and mulberry paper on a wood panel, 48 x 36 inches. Right: Spending time at a place where there is no sense of time, 2024. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on canvas over a wood panel, 60 x 48 inches
Indefinable, 2024. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on canvas over a wood panel, 60 x 48 inches
Embracing the Indefinable, 2023. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, and mulberry paper on a wood panel, 48 x 36 inches
Gradual shift of an unknown matter, 2024. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on a wood panel, 60 x 48 inches

Header image: Detail of Gravitational forces, 2024. Graphite, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, mulberry paper on canvas over a wood panel, 60 x 48 inches

All images © WooJin Shin

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