Dongdasong– Creative Energy and Meditation

Oh Kwang Su 
Art Critic 

When an artist demonstrates consistency in her work, this may be attributed to the influence of one of two worlds: the inner world and the outer world. People who rely on their inner world do not care about forms or trends, while the others put more focus on both these influences.

Baik Soon Shil belongs to the former world. Her work as an artist is strongly related to her spiritual world even though one cannot overlook the uniqueness of her own form. However, she is connected to her inner world more deeply than in mere forms and patterns; she certainly belongs to the category of an ideological type of artist.

Her spiritual world is deeply influenced by her life as a disciple of Tea Tao. The consistent theme expressed in her paintings is rooted in Dongdasong, a well-known poetry book by Zen Master Cho Ui. The unique spirituality of the Korean Tea Tao World expressed in the book is intrinsic to her works, which is quite rare. Most people enjoy the soothing fragrance and the taste that tea provides but there are not so many who have knowledge of how to convert the pleasure of Tea Tao into creative energy.

This creative energy means not just the spiritual pleasure that the experience of the tea gives but the amazing power of materialization that converts this experience into our physical world. The secret of Baik Soon Shil’s creative power goes back and forth from the physical world of tea tasting to the spiritual world beyond it.

In her early works, she employed the patterns formed by fine lines and touches reminiscent of tea leaves. These are sometimes crystallized and sometimes spread out to create scenes of natural images that resemble a field of tea. Her ideas drawn from tea and the tea field enable her paintings to stay abstract while always connected to natural images. Some changes in her works over the last four years are noteworthy. She uses earth colors that reflect the color of tea as a base and layers several creative symbols upon them. In most of her earlier works, the earth colors were used as a base, but the more recent ones show stronger coherence between the symbols that give her works stronger vital power. In her earlier works, the symbols were more prominent and divers.

The shift from abstract to more specific mental images shown in her recent works displays a more mature inner world. Her choice of extremely limited patterns and colors also reflect an inner world that is deeper and simpler. The dream like symbols and the strong, resilient bands linking them bring on constant changes and stability in her paintings. Both the harmony of simplification created by concentration and the expansion exploded into the outer world lead us to a quite world if meditation along with the mystery of creation.

Her paintings offer another impression. She successfully creates a harmony between the materials and images. The real paint material complements the prevailing images of plants in her paintings. The characteristics of the natural such as the canvas soaked in coffee and water – soluble acrylic and sometimes Indian ink give the pictures a quiet and secretive fragrance.

I believe she is now at the point of as amazing transformation generated by Tea Tao as a source of creative energy. She is not just a disciple of Tea Tao but one who successfully converts the fragrance of tea into the fragrance of creation. It is certain that stability based on perfect balance and the atmosphere of meditation embracing her pictures covertly reflects the secrets of her works formulated by internalizing and abiding by the precepts of Tea Tao.