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'It's not the I in me, but the me in me'Werner Sasse art exhibition at Gallery Nori, until April 9
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승인 2011.03.26  17:19:40
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▲ The artist at the opening to his Gallery Nori exhibition in Jeju City. Photo by Sarah Delroy

Werner Sasse’s art opening at Gallery Nori this past Saturday was a perfect storm. All the elements were just right. The sun was shining, the event was well attended, and the gallery’s angular sparkle surrounded by curving pines made a perfect backdrop for Sasse’s exhibition.

As is tradition, speeches were made. It was not only an auspicious day because of the exhibition, but also the gallery’s 100th day being open. Every surface of the gallery gleamed.

Sasse wore a modernized hanbok and black fedora. His speech was short and heartfelt. He said he was happy to see so many people and that this showing of his work made him feel more like a Jejuite.

After speeches came an outside demonstration. Sasse picked up a person-sized calligraphy brush, dipped it in a large bowl of ink and created a series of images on hanji (traditional Korean paper). The first was mostly black. The second had a white image of what looked like the moon and what looked like a meditator underneath it. The next image was a negative of the previous, the moon and meditator were now black, the background white. The images continued until there was only a blank sheet of Hanji, an apt metaphor for the disappearance of ego.

During an interview with The Jeju Weekly earlier in the week Sasse explained his creation process. He does not pick up a brush until he feels the urge. He will not force himself to paint regimentally. He smiled at this statement and said he felt the stirring to paint three times a day anyway.

Sasse says that an image, usually a landscape, forms in his mind’s eye. The three-dimensional image then shrinks down into two dimensions, and he puts the brush to ink. What comes next is a dialogue between what the brush is doing on the paper and the image in his mind. The image on the paper is not necessarily what he sees in his mind’s eye. Rather, he feels he serves as an observing mediator between the image and the brush. The dialogue is what the image on the paper becomes. Sasse laughed during this description and said that artists shouldn’t be allowed to speak. The creation process is a hard thing to put into words and is as individual as a fingerprint.

After the initial creative burst, or dialogue, Sasse takes a breath and looks at what he has created. He checks to see if it looks balanced. He adds to it until he feels it is finished; then hangs the painting up somewhere he will regularly see it. After a few days Sasse lets his “I” make the final adjustments to the work. During the initial process, Sasse is in a Zen-like state where, as he puts it, “it’s not the I in me, but the me in me,” working the brush. He says that it is very rare that a painting is not changed in some ways after the first session.

Inside the gallery the crowd is slowly moving around the rooms, taking long pauses in front of the paintings. Everyone seems to have their favorite that they circle back to and spend extra time with. Sasse says that he is a minimalist when it comes to painting. He believes that artists should leave room for the spectators to finish the piece for themselves. He says pictures should be open enough so that the spectator will see something different each time it is viewed, depending on temperament. This is why, he explains, it is hard to give subjects to his work. Galleries want to put a label beside each piece to describe it and give the viewer something specific to look for, but that is the polar opposite of what Sasse wants. He says that the viewer should be active, recreating the picture, in a sense, just as the artist created it initially.

Sasse’s exhibition in on display at the Gallery Nori near Jeoji Artist Village until April 9. Please call the gallery at 070-8800-1108 for more information.
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