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Oh Dakyo: Undine

Dakyo Oh


Exhibition View_Oh Dakyo Undine_1

Herman Melville’s (1819-1891) “Moby-Dick” opens with the reflection that in almost every painting, water can be found somewhere. Undine, the elemental beings associated with water in European alchemical texts, discern both the darkness and light inherent in this natural element. The modern French philosopher Gaston Bachelard perceives water as representing an unstoppable emergence, giving rise to growth and invigorating springs. Through his lens, water as a substance is defined from both scientific and literary axes as an eternal essence and source, eloquently allegorized in the language of poetry. Consequently, water has resonated with humanity as both a symbolic representation and an unadulterated essence, encompassing divine order and serving as a poignant literary metaphor. Owing to its rich tapestry of symbolism, surpassing any other substance, water threads its way through human thought in mythology and art, serving as a vehicle for creativity. In this context, we immerse ourselves in the stories of water, letting our dreams take flight.

Oh Dakyo_as ever lll_2023_Soil, sand, pearl and pigment on jangji_61 x 73 cm

In “Oh Dakyo: Undine,” presented by SEOJUNG ART, Dakyo Oh finds her inspiration in the realm of water, with her paintings becoming the sea itself. Born and raised by the sea, Oh views water as a captivating and spiritual force, the source of all life. This exhibition seeks to explore the sensibilities of water drawn from her personal experiences and imagination, shedding light on the principles guiding her artistic interpretation of this element and revealing how these sentiments translate into painterly messages.

Oh Dakyo_intimacy_2023_Soil, sand and pigment on jangji_162 x 112 cm

Oh’s sea is intertwined with meditation. Still (112 X 194 cm, set of 3) evokes the calm and gentle expanse of the sea on a tranquil evening, giving viewers the sensation that the artist’s soul has journeyed back to where it first met the ebb tide, reaching expansively beyond the confines of time and space. Crafted in layers and polished, reminiscent of the ebb and flow of tides, the artwork’s soft leaden hue conveys the scent of colorless sand. The ash hue, although devoid of color, encapsulates every shade, revealing the sea’s profound and spiritually intrinsic essence. Within this, the audience can gradually discern the latent potential and noble essence of nature and humanity, set apart from the clamorous world.

Oh Dakyo_the sea in my heart XV_2023_Sand and pigment on jangji_22 x 27.3 cm

Meanwhile, one the sea (one of 53 X 45.5 cm) captures waves that elegantly undulate, embodying a youthful vigor. The shimmering blue waves, reminiscent of sandy textures, glide with firm yet translucent flexibility. Smooth, round, crystal-like grains are meticulously blended with a damp mixture of fine, soft earth powder and donkey-hide gelatin. Just as beach sand naturally dries under the sun and wind, the sandy texture on the canvas harbors layers of energy, morphing into expansive waves. The canvas conveys the sea’s serene elegance and its velvety shimmer with a dreamlike tranquility.

Exhibition View_Oh Dakyo Undine_2

Dakyo Oh’s series of works expresses a longing for a complete homeland in the realm of existence and a desire to return home. For the artist, who seems to feel a deeper yearning for a perfect world than most, the sea represents both a quiet force of the soul and a resilient way of being. The sea, which has guided Oh’s heart as an eternal principle of life, is not merely abstract. The sea spread across the canvas in her logic and rhythm achieves the feat of directing our gaze toward an origin beyond. The peculiar and complex affairs of humanity seem almost playful or trivial in front of the sea’s subtle yet encompassing magnitude.

Exhibition View_Oh Dakyo Undine_3

30, Dalmaji-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, Korea

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