Archetypes of Painting

The Messenger, The Totem, The Shaman, and Watcher

Performed on April 3rd


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What is process?

Is it what I do? What I imagine? My dance with the material world?

The thing that I draw is only a momentary impression to me, a trick of the light and sensation, a perspective shimmering on the surface of the water, the temporal fading of flesh.

A line that is here, and gone.

The Messenger

The artist is the bringer of fire! Prometheus!

The pointer out of cracks in the wheel of life, an experiencer of the unknown, a responder, an activator. A living embodiment  of the tacit.

What am I supposed to do here? … thinking about my active relationship with the line.

I’m doing basically a blind contour. Your arm is about here, and the body there, I don’t know how this angle  got to be that way… I can go really deeply  in the face. The eyes are endless pools. I don’t know how I got that; that was the arm.

I didn’t get this shoulder right – oh, that’s beautiful. It comes out softly. 

The pose is a dynamic state, not a stillness. I just try to experience your arm; I don’t care where it is. I use lots of negative space. The forms come out of the negative space. I’m drawing gesturally so I want to capture tones in blocks, quickly. You are moving constantly. The drawing and the drawn are both constantly moving together. Color moves all the time; it’s the light moving. Everything is always moving or we don’t see it. I’m just drawing the movement.

And something appears.

What is process? Is it a journey?

The Totem

The symbolic representative of the spirit, he stands, moving this way, speaking with the two faces of Janus, pointing towards the one that will follow, myth of terrible force, a story that changes but remains the same.

It stands before me

Echoes of meaning.

Early morning, late night.

What is this region?

A void.

Process seeks a micro-narrative relationship with emergent impression in the media.

A life of awareness is a life of intensity.

Perspective during process is an ambivalent horror.

How can I step back from the Oroborus? I am inside the thing already, consumed by it, chasing a line that never ends, from the trace of the charcoal scratch to the body electric.

Sleep and Birth

The Watcher

The watcher prepares for the return of intention.

Watch closely.  Feel closely.

The charcoal drifts   over the canvas, the brush with water. The light touch is an echo of time.

I wander through the labyrinth searching along the lines of threads that have been dragged through the dust. I could hear a voice coming from the depths, drawing me on. It seemed to whisper that the paths could only be read together like a melody hidden in the chords of a breeze that called,


Compositional relationships are a play with the voices of the elements. An element can define a region of unresolve that spreads across the whole canvas. I approach completion by observing the balance (or contrast) of relationships. It’s about the sort of relationship that is reached. Problematic relationships ask questions – one can “erase” the element, but not solve the riddle.

The Shaman

The pure becoming.

The innocent.

Representations can never catch up with reality.

Originality has currency, both spatial and dynamic, in it. The rest is representation.

Knowledge forever emergent.

The lines of her face, countless impressions.

A return

What is born will be reborn.

The process-response of conscious thought through my medium, already detached from the tacit unknown, becomes frozen  in a slow time world of plastic, oil, charcoal, graphite, and canvas. 

The artist may intend to leave the artifact behind for a little while longer, or not.

The artifact is refuse.

Kronos eats all.

A new beginning

Tacit experience makes every drawing a self-portrait.

The face you see most often.

The body most lived.

We share what we cannot tell by pointing, saying this, and showing.


The serpent in the cave problem.

Disorienting space destroys flow. I have realized that third person observation in studio practice is problematic by nature.

On the other hand, writing notes about drawing while drawing was not an immersive experience either. Perhaps recording while working, a stream of consciousness interaction   with the artifact. Having conversations with the painting. Reminiscing with the canvas. Paint from the mouth and words from the brush. Transcendental semiotic conflation.


I equate embodied experience with self observation. Self observation requires a particular imagination, the ability to see oneself from a perspective outside experience, or at least to engage intently on the thought experiment of doing so. This is how I approach art as explorative experience; not “making art” but “doing art”. In this way, drawing takes on   more of its sense of pulling-out, a bringing forth of what is already there, but hidden: A kinetic and somatic access to knowledge.

My research into process has taken me on a journey, one whose source I find somewhere in the footsteps of a small girl after she became aware of another through the gateway of loss, a journey whose path must extend beyond the confines of containment in a life, but one   whose goal focuses on the perfection of the next moment.

About Suk Kyoung Choi

artist / researcher

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