|▲ Literati painting artist Youngja Im|
Some say great artists are born. They can make something brilliant without training and without working hard because their brilliance surpasses talent of ordinary people. But after studying carefully of how great artists were born and grew and what training and hardships they had gone through, not many will agree great artists were born. In fact, they worked harder, endured loneliness more and struggled with their inner soul tougher than ordinary people. Let the argument aside, there is one thing we all might agree: they walked the long journey without looking back no matter how desperate their lives were and how much despair they felt.
Im was born and bred in Iksan, North Jeolla Province. Since a child, she heard a lot about her dexterity from trimming hairs of her family to whatever it was that involved her two hands. As she grew, her interest in calligraphy also grew. During the course of finding her true calling, she encountered literati painting which she fell in love with its charm instantly and she learned skill by knocking the door of art studios here and there. Not long after, she met Jeongsup Kim who became her teacher and she felt strong energy that this would decide her future course of life. For the next 18 years, she learned under professional instructions of Kim and her career as a literati painting artist has reached 25 years.
“When I opened the door of Kim’s studio and saw the paintings here and there, I felt like I was absorbed into the images. They were completely different from what had painted and what I had seen. I ardently wanted to learn the technique to make my own works one day” looks back Im.
During the 25 years of journey, she has achieved much: Seoul Mayor’s prize at the Grand Art Exhibition of Korea, excellent artist prize at the Korea Peace Art, and invited artist’s prize from the Hankuk Art Museum and from the Nationwide Competition. When asked what made her win these prizes, she said that she still had a long way to go to talk about it but one thing she did without a stop was doing it over and over again.
“I don’t know how to talk about techniques or my talents but I can say that endurance and concentration are what made me today. I think it is more important to see and receive the characteristics of a certain genre, for me the literati painting, as it is than the techniques so that I can naturally absorb into it during the course of creative process. Drawing a literati painting, like many other art works, is not an easy path as I should hold the brush for a long time in the same pose. But the fruits are sweeter than the physical pain and mental struggle.”
She points out that art in a way is self-training that must be made through continuous endeavor and inner fight; from taking the brush and ending the day’s work is a process of removing trivial thoughts and material desires; every line and curve you draw purifies you and makes you feel simple.
Im is serving as a member of the Seoul Biennale Operation Committee member and a judge of the Korean Calligraphy and Literati Painting Competition. <PowerKorea>
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