Seung Yun-Ray’s Solo Invitation Exhibition

<Shalom, Elegant blessing>

8 March - 25 March, 2023

The elegant and blessed Palm Trees of Seung Yun-Ray rustles of Life

The heat of a soft dance lingers on the screen, with the freshness of a fluffy cloud drifting on a gentle breeze. Beginning with line strokes and ending with them too, artist Seung Yun-Ray’s canvas is filled with flutters of a swan on a lake or the fuzzy warmth of a wool-knit scarf.

An artwork reflects its creator’s character – Well, you could guess what the paintings of Seung would be like if you knew the artist’s kindness and shy smile. No factitiousness or superfluousness can be found in her works – they are completed by the rhythm of her fingertips, in easy flow as if in a full breath of energy inward. Their titles have consistently been “Palm tree” which is also the perennial subject matter, but this cannot be from merely being charmed with the look of the plant’s wild and lavish branches. What could be the reason behind staying so persistently with a single subject matter?

Olive tree, fig tree, palm tree, grapevine, citrus tree, apple tree, mulberry tree... There are many kinds of trees mentioned in the Bible, but the most frequent one is the “Palm tree”. Its fruit “dates” makes great food, the leaves are used for roofs in tropical regions, its trunk is used as wood, and the flowers become an ingredient for drinks- There is nothing to be discarded about this plant. 

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 

(Psalm 92:12-13 of the Bible, NKJ) 

The palm tree that Seung consistently draws has many symbolisms in the Bible such as reverence, joy, victory, and prosperity. A righteous person in the Christian perspective is based on the premise of being “one of God’s people who trust and obey Him in faith”, and the ancient Hebrew word “פָּרַח” (pronounced “pârach”) which means “to prosper” contains the meaning of “branches reaching out from a tree.” Therefore, through the image of a tree with numerous branches and leaves flourishing out of its trunk, Seung is describing “the thriving righteous person”.

The visual language of Seung Yun-Ray is simple and honest. An artwork is born through the rhythmically repeated line drawing by crayon on cardboard that has a fair amount of texture. The speedy bold lines that reflect Il-pil-hwi-ji (一筆揮之: dashing off with one stroke of a brush) of Korean painting carry with them a clear conviction of the artist. Repeating an action at a constant speed would bring Seung to the point of drawing the last leaf stemming from a single or a pair of palm trees. The most dominant feature is the trace of perky and vibrant strokes, and you cannot neglect the fact that the process of drawing those lines requires a calm rhythm in incredibly stable breathing.

Often the stronger the shadow, the more luminous the light is. And the same goes for this plant that appears more beautiful for usually residing in desolate surroundings – an evergreen tree that maintains its greenery in a desert-like environment. Since their deep roots contact with the spring water of the oasis, the existence of palm trees is considered a hope for life in the valleys of deathThis is also compared to the “courts of God”, and the Holy Spirit for being the source of life. Such must be the reason that artist Seung had chosen the palm tree as a sign of faith. 

Moreover, as a single palm tree reportedly produces over 200kg of fruit in a year and bears the most amount of fruit when 50 years old, a palm tree can well be called “the most blessed tree in resemblance of a human life”. Take a close look at Seung’s canvas, and you will discover that beyond “the landscape of a palm tree” lies an indirect description of human society. For example, two or three palm trees standing side by side remind of a couple, husband and wife, or a family. Also, the fence surrounding the plants generates an image of yearning for a happy and harmonious family, which warms the hearts of viewers. 

Seung’s works are of equal subject matter and are all painted with crayons on paper, but each has its unique expression and emotion. With soft and calm pastel hue as dominant colors, the addition of blue, red, light green, and purple create varying sentiments. Perhaps from these drawings, the viewer may be able to pick a favorite among emotional messages such as the hope of spring, passion of summer, abundance of autumn, and tranquility of winter. Also, scenes containing the capture of nature’s purest moments in Seung’s extraordinary taste and exuberant energy can be identified. 

Seung Yun-Ray’s <Palm tree> series show “elegant dignity within freedom”, and “carefree enchantment” of finding joy even if aimlessly wandering in a desert. Demonstrating a vintage yet classical melody of sophistication, the artist presents a beauty unbound by a particular trend. By following her pleasant and stylish lines, you will come to see Seung Yun-Ray’s true ingenuity – the gliding graceful lines, witty details, rich accentuations, natural silhouettes, etc. As the lines overlap, the screen composition becomes more solid, and the meaning beyond the palm tree as a subject matter is visually realized. 

Furthermore, the description of the palm tree in the text of the Bible, such as “righteous person (Psalm 92:12)”, “a bride’s dignity and beauty (Songs of Solomon 7:7-8)”, and “glorious ruler (Judges 9:14)” are the motifs of the artworks. But what truly makes Seung’s palm trees special is not due to the adaptation from the Bible, but for their exuding of the artist’s faith that has been strengthened through decades. 

* Hosted by Nari Kim (CEO of HORI Artspace)  

* Directed by Yoon-sub Kim (CEO of AIF Art Management)


Installation Views

Related Artists

Seung Yun-Ray

승연례, (1949-)