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Depression is an excess of the past, anxiety is an excess of the future, the present is to be at peace“. The origin of this quote is uncertain yet it resonates with us all and has been readily adopted by Western psychology. Above all, in a social context like the one we are living in now, in which we can come to think that all past time was better and that the future is simply uncertain.

The Korean artist CHO Yea Jae wanted to take this one step further, and in 2015 she turned this mantra-which is truly born of East Asian philosophy-into a powerful collection of paintings. “Transcendence” is a conceptual, abstract, and minimalist series based on a deep reflection on our individual life journey and inspired by two of her favourite teachings:

– The Middle Way (중도 中道) in Buddhism. It is generally understood as “not too much and too little” or “not too extreme to one side”. This is a good way to understand it, but there is another meaning: “the third way or something to be seen.”

– Moderation (중용 中庸) in Confucianism It focuses more on how we behave with others in the right ways and on respect for coexistence, while the Middle Way (중도 中道) in Buddhism focuses more on how a living being is perceived.

As the renowned Art Critic, Francisco Carpio describes, in his work the chromatic registers play an important symbolic role. “Thus, white, which occupies the most textured and irregular surfaces, represents, according to the artist, the past, which is always the initial station that will end up in the halls of time.”

In this way, the black colour symbolises the future, with its dose of uncertainty and doubt. On the other hand, the present is chromatically symbolized by the shades of grey, tones that reflect -physically and mentally- the union between the past and the future”.

An immersive work that seeks to interact with the spectator and make us think. How do we face the future? Are we capable of living and enjoying the present? Will we be able to achieve that kind of moderation someday? As Carpio states in his study about CHO Yea Jae‘s work, it is “a goal that is undoubtedly desirable, ambitious, difficult, complex and on many occasions -almost impossible to achieve. But that ‘almost’ is precisely the magical, inexplicable and healing gift of Art. There is no other formula“. And in a way, the title of CHO‘s work is almost premonitory: ‘Transcendence’, which in philosophy means “that which is beyond natural limits”. But even so, what do we lose by trying?

The union of these three parts defines us. It is very important and, at the same time, difficult to acquire the perfect balance and harmony between these three elements. If we can achieve “The Middle Path” or live in “moderation” we will enjoy a better life” – CHO Yea Jae


discover more @ CHO Yea Jae 

by Andrew Polar

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