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Layered Color Fields, Experiment with the Identity of Painting

ARTIST INSIDE 2022 | Seungtaik Jang

Layered Color Fields, Experiment with the Identity of Painting

Artist Seungtaik Jang is at the forefront of Korean color field abstract painting.|
At first glance, these abstract paintings may appear monotonous, but they have such a variety and complexity that they cannot be defined as a single group.
They can be a single color or multiple colors, and depending on how they are created, they can repeat actions or emphasize restraint.
The color surface can mean emptiness, or it can aim for fullness.
Seungtaik Jang has been experimenting with various materials and methods of painting in between these variations.

Seungtaik Jang, 장승택, Layered Painting G 60-84, 2022, Acrylic on glass, 123 × 93 cm

Please tell us about the works presented at Kiaf SEOUL.

It’s a series of “layered paintings” that I’ve been working on lately, featuring more than 100 canvases and 60 works on glass. The “layered paintings” are completed by using a specially made large brush to paint transparent layers of different colors and letting them dry. It had been a long time since I’d picked up a paintbrush again.

What inspired you to pick up a brush again?

I’ve been painting without brushes for the last 30 years, using my hands, flamethrowers, rollers, air-spray, etc… I’ve been experimenting with tools other than the traditional medium of canvas and brush, and the paintbrush was one of those tools I picked up again. The brush leaves too many trails with even the smallest movement, so I tried to minimize my movements while working on the ” layered paintings”. If I need another tool, I’ll switch it up.

The simple act of creating a colored plane as part of a larger whole creates a huge chromatic illusion. Is light what that illusion is ultimately about?

I thought to myself, where do the colors go when darkness falls? Color is created by light and has its body on the surface of an object. I wanted to reveal the multiplication of transparent colors through the effect of light. Light and color are key elements in my work. I could be working on glass or plastic, not on canvas, and my work would still be a painting because of the light and color.

I read in your author’s note that “artists today must assume the role of shaman and alchemist.” What do you mean by that?

A good artist has to have an extraordinary intuition about the world. They have to have an eye for true beauty, and they have to be wary of the complacency that comes with being trapped within the confines of tradition. I wrote it in the sense that you have to create something new with the materials of the current times. No paint flows and blends by chance.

Seungtaik Jang, 장승택, Layered Painting 100-70, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 160 × 130 cm

Are you still striving for contemporaneity?

The artists of my generation, who still play with paint and enjoy drawing, don’t really keep up with the pace of the times, where the word “virtual” is the buzzword and space travel has become a thing. But my studio is my own eternal cradle, and I think I have no choice but to keep touching and looking at it with joy until I run out of energy.

Interview by Heaseung Kang, published on Kiaf 2022 Catalogue