'MEMENTO MORI' : the bridge of the life and death as a medium

Yoon Jin Sup (Art Critic/ Professor at Honam University)


Do, Byung Kyus works of art is based on the use of naked dolls, which are limited to baby dolls. All of them have expressionless faces in his paintings which is drawn with a Hyper realism. The dolls, which are made of ivory-colored soft rubber, exhibit the front faces particularly in his latest work. The doll's faces fill the canvas surface up would be faced with the fronts of an audience. From the perspective of the audience, they should look at the surface of the canvas in front of their eyes. The paintings in the exhibition will be surely displayed at the appropriate height which will enable the audiences view to face the dolls eyes. It is assumed that 'strategy of gaze' which are also related to his intention. His paintings appears to say, 'Look at the eyes of the doll.'

Light brown, light black and the big blue pupils of the dolls eyes which recall Western children are rather daunting. Such feeling is attributed not only to the size of the eyes, but to the life likeness there of even if they are baby dolls eyes. It is possible because Do, Byung Kyu's emotion is transferred to the doll, even though such doll is just one inanimate object. This quaint aesthetic experience may take place due to his special touch which replaces the expressionless faces of the doll into something meaningful. In fact, this is likely to lead to the failure of maintaining an objective distance between the audiences and the paintings. They may feel compassion or love while looking at the paintings. This is why it is difficult to categorize his paintings into surrealism. The maintenance of an objective distance between the artist and audiences is practically impossible.

Do, Byung Kyu's latest works of art can be classified into two types. One is the close-up of the dolls faces and the other is the painting of their faces dipped in the water or viscous liquid. The impact of bold gaze is stronger in the former than in the latter because the eyes of the dolls in the latter are looking downward and they are covered with the water or viscous liquid.

These two types of the paintings of the dolls faces are given with different situations. As for the former, tiny babies which seem to be the avatars of dolls are coming out of the sporadically located small holes in the close-up and clearer painting of the dolls eyes. This is entirely a product of the his imagination. This image of the doll, that is a naked baby, is so-called the image of the image according to the well-known Platos allegory. This is three stages away from the conception of archetypes?that is, idea. It looks like small avatars. However, are these just the avatars of dolls? Considering the fact that dolls are toys for children, it can be concluded that the avatars of dolls are also those of people. If so, is he using a strategy of reversal which controls the cyber realty by hand-painting that relies on analogy media? Given avatars in the cyber world are also the image toys contrived by human beings, Do, Byung Kyu's such strategy appears to be very persuasive. Besides, considering the reality where the incident of starving a real baby to death due to an obsession with an avatar baby took place, Platos foresight warning of a virtual image is impressively convincing. The power of art comes out right here. Platos message, Beware of a virtual image is manifested in his paintings.

As for the latter, they are the images of dolls dipped in the water or clear viscous liquid. The law of the frontality also applies here. But difference from the former is that dolls are being locked somewhere. The images of boiling water or broken viscous liquid allude to such situations. Why did he bother to set such situations? This scene can be made when dolls are forcefully drowned into a container full of water. Who does not have such experience? And this sadistic behavior is symbolically manifested in his paintings. The strategy of eye contact is also used here. The eyes of dolls in the painting seem to lose vitality and fall into despair. While those in the former are clearly drawn, the eyes in the latter paintings are covered with the water or viscous liquid, looking somewhat blurred. Is this the image of a baby swimming in the womb of the mother? It seems it does not matter what it is. I focus on the psychological distress and the gap between individual and society. Maybe, this psychological distress-'Fobidden, tendency, desire and fear in his on ego'(Do, Byung Kyu's drawing note)-is rooted on the trauma that formed in his boys hood.

The subject of this exhibition related to the Death. This subject included the same view of the life and death. as a maxim "Remember, death of your self (Memento Mori)". The view of life and death as same dimension is considered in the view of buddhism and Daoism life. These perspective can be showed through the <Bridge>. The meaning of the bridge is 'the medium' as the connection life and wandering souls in the real after their death. Do, Byung Kyu, using the unbilical cord across the fetus and small baby's image in his paintings. The line could be connect with each small baby in the paintings. The unbilical cord means to connect life and afterlife as the Soul Bridge.

This is my interpretation of Do,Byung Kyu's works of art. Such signs are not specifically revealed anywhere in his paintings. Yet we may at least detect such signs and intentions through tears flowing down on the babys face. What wants is not to depict a real baby and but to reveal social injustice regarding babies via a baby doll. We may find that Do,Byung Kyu's works of art leaves a precedent that the virtuality may leave a stronger message than the reality.