Cosmos – Archaeological Weather Map
Able Fine Art NY
Jun. 18, 2023 - Jul. 1, 2014
The Restless Cosmos of Im Goo Noo
Robert C. Morgan
Im Goo Noo is an important Korean artist. His work brings together the vernacular of everyday life with deeply felt historical and mythic sources. His paintings and installations are both unique and intriguing. Im Goo Noo aligns his work with important founding modernists, such as Park Seo Bo, Paik Nam Jun, and Kim Tschang Yeul. While he does not follow directly their stylistic orientations, Im’s passion and presence as a poetic imagist in a contemporary context continues to hold its own engaging appeal. For example, his multicolored banners blowing in the wind reveal the artist’s awareness of energy – the sacred, luminous qi –as it carries a subtle and evocative knowledge of historical sources going back to the Koryo Dynasty.
In observing Im’s work, I recognize a quality of “pattern recognition,”
a term used by the Canadian media analyst Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s whereby recurrent themes could be identified in an artist’s work. McLuhan applied his ideas primary to the medium of television; but I maintain they could be applied to contemporary painting as well. Im Goo Noo is a primary example. As one begins to look at the vast repertoire of Im’s paintings, it becomes evident that many of his works are related to not only the media of the present but to Korean history and culture going back over the centuries. These might include a rich color field of bright flowers with animals taken from hybrid fantasies and conjugations
using the leopard’s spots in relation to the black and white stripes of the zebra or where the contours of small horses interact with the blossoming of trees within a scattered field of polka dots. This might also include his banners of brilliant intersecting colors that Im Goo Noo has employed over the years on various celebratory locations, always for the purpose of projecting a heightened manifestation of spiritual values within the material world.
This is the crux of the matter. Indeed, Im Goo Noo is interested in the connections between spiritual values and the material manifestations of the everyday world. Both hemispheres of knowledge relate to the process of making art and the fact that some aspects of art never really change. The art of the past is not entirely divorced from the present even as different materials and technologies have intervened. Im Goo Noo is fully aware of the continuity between life and art. Therefore, one might ask: How can the cosmos or the galaxies fit into a category? Im Goo Noo’s cosmologies are indeterminate spiritual compositions. They do not fit our preconceptions. They are not simply patterns, as McLuhan’s theory proposed. Rather, they are diverse patterns. Im’s cosmic paintings refer to the interior self and, in doing so, suggest transcendent features presence in the universe. Within the living potency of Korean shamanism, the artist recognizes the spiritual equivalence to nature. As I have observed in Im’s work, his ability to recognize and enter into the life force of these pattern recognitions is a substantial, ongoing theme in his work, a central component in his art.
In the paintings of Im Goo Noo the universe is restless. The planets, stars, suns, and moons appear to function in a relative state of interactive equilibrium. The universe of Im Goo Noo is never static any more than the familiar yin-yang stays in one place. It doesn’t. Rather these forces are continually shifting back and
forth, circling in their axes around one another. One motion affects another, as do
the feelings that reside within and between human beings. These patterns are in constant flux, moving between light and darkness, perpetually attracting and repelling other spheres in motion until they strike a balance within this vastly infinite cosmic theater. This is how I read and understand the art of Im Goo Noo, an art that never stops moving.
Artist and author of many books and catalogs, Robert C. Morgan continues to teach at Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was awarded the Arcale award in International art criticism in Salamanca (Spain) in 1999, and in 2011 was inducted into the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg (Austria). Last year, he was invited to lecture at Peking University in China on “The Storage and Retrieval of Idea-based Art.”