Deeply engaged with the interrelationship between line and figuration, the works of Su-Jeong Nam are studies in how the contours created through drawing can feel less like artificial boundaries imposed by an artist, and more like organic extensions of the figure depicted.
Working mainly with ink, the transparency of line that the medium readily lends itself to gives Nam’s figures a sense of self-governing closure. Taking as her theme various kinds of fauna, including azaleas, forests, and acacias, her practice of drawing lines as points of origination, rather than rhythmic disruptions of space, allows her subjects to extend freely across the whole plane of a picture, rather than being confined to some artificial area of immobility.
Equally adept at working on paper as on canvas, Nam is careful to emulate the incidents, crags, and valleys of natural life as it struggles to unfold. In the process of this development she sees nothing less than a microcosm of universe itself. Simultaneously, there’s a sense of social realism implied by her drawings. Her works depicting the expansive growth of the natural world suggest a latent criticism of contemporary Korean society. Utilizing techniques derived from Korean tradition to critique the society where these traditions originate, the complementarity between, say, the lines delineating a flower (as Nam renders it), and the colored background against which it develops, comes to signify the social necessity of creating less arbitrary hierarchies, where artificial divisions between the elements of a political body don’t interfere with the development of life as a whole.
Ultimately, however, the focal point of Nam’s work is aesthetic. What’s at issue is the absorption of ink into the material it’s applied to, and how this absorption works to create a sense of lineation that feels both significant, like a mark of calligraphy, and formal, like the stroke of a pen that renders an azalea leaf palpable.