When I was in elementary school, after having dinner, I habitually searched for constellations, which I learned about in science period at school,” says Park Myung-Hee, dating her relationship with the “mysterious brightnesss” of the sky, back to her childhood.
Like any other youngster mesmerised by the vast expanse of the universe, its stars and planetary settings, Park explored the same in her thoughts till she grew up to be an artist and reproduce her imagination on canvas. An expert in ‘Ottchil’ (Korean traditional lacquer painting), her works displayed under the name ‘My Universe’, cannot be defined as just paint on canvas because each piece glows adding the element of mysticism, that is also an integral part of the universe. The source of this radiance is the lacquer that the artist makes use of. In addition, the use of mother-of-pearl, aluminium and gold leaf lends sheen to each artwork in the gallery.
Most of them appear like concentric circles in mind game with different background colours. But there are few works such as the one titled ‘O-jack-gyo’ which shows a couple on a love bridge. “There is a love story in Korea about Gyun-woo (hero) and Jing-nyeu (heroine) who can meet only once a year on the bridge made by crows and magpies,”narrates Park, whose painting created with mother of pearls provides another bridge for these lovers to meet!
It is not just the universe that inspires her. An artwork titled ‘Beyond the incense fragrance’ proves this, as the artist creates the affable vapour from an incense stick like imagination emanating from a creative mind.
The centre-piece of this exhibition is the ‘Tea Caddy Design using Shellfish Form 2009’ which she creates by polishing from a rough to smooth sand paper. A collection of these designs appear like sea urchins under water. It takes her months to create layers and perfect these pieces.
It is important to notice the presence of flowers in her works. “While reading the book ‘A New Earth’ by a German author Ekhart Tolle, I got to know ‘A state of deep bliss’, which Mr Tolle mentioned, doesn’t exist anywhere else but only within me,” says Park who explicitly corelates the flower to the female reproductive organ – also the source of origin of life in the universe.
Park explores the mystery of a female body through the motif of flower and then places it in the centre of the universe. ‘My Universe’ is on at The Korean Cultural Centre till March 20.