Ha Chong-Hyun: Method and Materiality
By Andy St. Louis
Artmaking is an arduous individual pursuit, one requiring countless hours of unfaltering persistence and patience from artists as they work toward an indeterminate goal: namely, realizing a singular artwork that shatters their perceptions and reshapes their creative outlook anew. In the brief history of Korean modern art since the Korean War, the most significant breakthrough of this sort materialized in 1974, when Ha Chong-Hyun fundamentally changed the rules of painting with Work 74-A (1974). Rather than applying paint directly onto a flat surface, Ha extruded paint through small fissures in the picture plane, deploying an inside-out methodology that gave the appearance of paint emerging from somewhere within the canvas itself. This inversion of painting’s directionality was the key inflection point of Ha’s career, operating as a cipher for the diverse forms of expression found in his previous works as well as a new benchmark by which to calibrate the artworks that were to follow.