“The work of Cho Duck-Hyun addresses the profound social, political and economic changes that the Korean people experienced during the 20th Century. Through his work, he seeks to reconcile the complexities and dualities inherent in sweeping changes that resulted from seminal historical events: the colonization of Korea by Japan, WWII, the Korean War, postwar recovery, and the subsequent industrial and technical revolutions. Cho investigates the schisms that he perceives in contemporary Korea, a nation that increasingly sheds tradition as it embraces progress. ”
Undoubtedly one of the most stirring and innovative artists of his time, Duck-Hyun Cho’s works in art only too clearly reflect his thoughts about the building of a new Korea. Through his work, and ably supported by his compatriots, Duck-Hyun Cho seeks to present his views on a new Korea. His works, such as his commissioned The Peter Wakefield collection (2006) talk a great deal about the issue of a culturally divided Korea, and try to cleanse spiritual and cultural clogs developing in the minds of Koreans. His art is not only reflective of his thoughts, but also persuasive.
In this essay, we shall attempt to understand Cho’s psychological dimension through a careful analysis of his paintings. In doing so, it will become clear as to how Cho feels his county can make huge strides in progress, and strike the perfect balance between culture and development. “The Dream” of a developed Korea can never be complete unless Korean culture is respected, and Cho shows how he feels about preserving tradition through remarkable pieces of art. The Psychological dimension of Duck-Hyun Cho’s paintings
In psychological analysis, “dream” is defined primarily “a realm of the mind in which we act of unresolved issues in order to either release anxiety or find a solution”. Given the Korean vision, this definition holds not only relevant, but also perfectly aligns itself with Duck-Hyun Cho’s line of thought. A highly intelligent and advanced analyst, Cho’s paintings have addressed multiple issues surrounding the great dream – political, economic and theological. Being an artist renowned around the world, the all-important question arises in our mind: Why do Duck-Hyun Cho’s works reflect modern Korean history?
The answer, upon a careful study becomes obvious: Duck-Hyun Cho has employed old and even forgotten historical photographs – setting him apart from his competitors, and giving his work an ample realistic touch. Among Cho’s latest collection of works are his fifteen commissioned paintings, The Sir Peter Wakefield collection. As pointed out in the website “Through the looking glass”: “Duck-Hyun Cho’s newly commissioned fifteen paintings ‘The Sir Peter Wakefield Collection’ creates a meeting point for the people from past and present” .
These words testify whatever we have discussed by now, about the psychological dimension of the artist. His work only too clearly speaks of his fond intention to create a utopian Korea, where culture and progress are given equal respect and treated with a sense of modernity. He persuades his people to amicably bridge a modern, technically sound future, and a historical, breathtaking past. His works speak his eternal belief that “The Dream Korea” can materialize only when such a beautiful merger between the past and the future can be attained.
As we analyze another of Duck-Hyun Cho’s work, “A memory of the 20th century series” , we can again see his deep desire to see a perfect, judicious balance between two radically diverse Koreas. In the painting, Cho has drawn paintings in Lightning boxes – an obvious reference to his abridgment of the past and the future. Psychologically, we can safely presume that Cho’s normative views would make him an idealist of the modern era. The dream Korea, therefore, would essentially be a modern, globalized powerhouse, as Koreans envision it to be.
But today, we see the citizens of Korea rapidly shedding their identity, their tradition and their culture, towards their blind, relentless march towards development. Is that warranted? Should we really dream of an entirely new Korea, forfeiting a glorious culture? Resoundingly No! And the works of Duck-Hyun Cho reflect his views of a Utopian Korea, where culture and modernity go hand-in-hand. Conclusion With a special emphasis on two of Cho’s works – The 20th Century series and The Sir Peter Wakefield Collection, this essay attempts to analyze Duck-Hyun Cho’s perception of the dream.
Psychologically, though we may classify Cho as an idealist, given his normative thinking, and equally idealistic works of art, it would be unfair to an artist whose works have transcended boundaries. An artist who has seen the world, taken his art around the globe, and that too for the sake of his country, must not be viewed simply as an idealist. We can only too clearly see his love for his country, and his call to his people to bridge the gap. As a penultimate conclusion, Duck-Hyun Cho’s art reflects his utopian thought.
But ultimately, we can safely see that Cho’s “Dream Korea” is a complete one, replete with a country that retains a glorious identity.
1. Crossings 2003: Korea/Hawai’I. The Contemporary museum. URL: http://www. hawaii. edu/artgallery/crossings/tcm_cho_dh. htm 2. Through the looking glass: Korean Contemporary Art. URL: http://www. throughthelookingglass-exhibition. com/press. html 3. Tradition/Tensions: Cho Duck-Hyun (Korea). URL: http://www. nyu. edu/pages/greyart/exhibits/asia/g3. htm