Everything changes and ultimately disappears. In the end, the process is important. The outcome doesn’t mean much.
The Gokshin Never Dies
God of Valley by Oh Sufan hails from the artist’s Gokshin (God of Valley) series – the artist’s earliest and most representative body of work up until the mid-1990s. Well-versed in philosophical thought from the East and West, including existentialism, phenomenology, structuralism and semiotics, as well as the teachings of Laozi, Zhuangzi and the Chinese classics, Oh Sufan’s highly intellectual oeuvre of abstraction focuses on the act and process of painting rather than on form or outcome. The artist considers his brushstrokes as traces of his actions that confirm the reality of the painting space, and makes a deliberate effort to empty his mind while painting – often even closing his eyes while working – in order to achieve the purest interplay between his creation and his consciousness. For Oh Sufan, painting was ultimately merely only ‘a chunk of paints applied on canvas’ – the element that imbues a work with meaning was the painter’s genuine gestures, movements and expressions.
The present work’s title derives from the phrase ‘Gokshin bulsa’, which translates as ‘the Gokshin never dies’, or ‘the vitality in nature is enduring’. The artist’s distinctive forms on canvas, resembling mysterious primordial signs or cartographic symbols, exhibit Oh Sufan’s charged creative spirit that gives rise to raw forceful spontaneous brushwork. While revealing elements of East Asian philosophy, Oh Sufan’s works also seem to situate within the lineage of Abstract Expressionism European Informel, blending East and West to achieve a unique universal abstract lexicon. Having held solo exhibitions in Seoul, Tokyo and Stockholm, Oh Sufan’s works are included in prominent museum collections including the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; Seoul Municipal Museum, Seoul; Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka; and the Maeght Foundation, Saint-Paul de Vence.