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2006 Gilbert Lascault


The dark light



In the drawings and paintings of Hye-Sook Yoo, the dark light exposes itself, charms and stirs, in the form of a long and somber living chevelure, or appears as an unsettling piece of a woman’s secret lingerie, but also a corsage or t-shirt, and finally, in the form of a crepuscular hirsute hood.


The dark-light of Hye-Sook Yoo reveals the limpid opaque, the moiré, the shimmering veiled, the backlit, the muted illumination. This dark-light unfolds, disrobes, and gives itself. Then it moves.

Ever so often, it wraps, disguises, and hides itself; sometimes it reappears gushing. Hence the blackness of hair and its texture seduce, gleam, blind; it misleads, it disorients.


With charcoal, with pastel, with acrylic, with Indian ink, with watercolors, with Conté crayons, especially (yes, especially!) with diverse leads (H ,8H, 4B, 8B etc), with silicone, with various mixed techniques, their reflections, their ignored scintillation.  And she revels in it.


Hye-Sook Yoo’s dark-light quivers, vibrates, becomes animate, moves around, and slips.

At times, it floats, undulates, glides, and soars weightlessly. At times, this dark-light, grows like a seed, like spores, an origin, an announced burst.

Thus, in 2003, Hye-Sook Yoo relates creation with wait : “ A plant, does it have desires? Perhaps it comes from the seed sown in our ground! Braiding desires one by one without having neither end nor beginning.”


The dark-light of Hye-Sook Yoo is an intensity, a fore, an efficacy, a brilliance.  It incites and excites. It brings to life.


From 2000 to 2006 (and perhaps there-after) Hye-Sook Yoo has privileged the dark head of hair, most often female. The dark hair of beautiful Asians fascinates. Skillfully combed, superbly arranged, not woven, this nightly hair forms a supple vibrant texture, a strange order that is simple, sensible, and sensual. The hair is a portrait of the back. The lead from the pencil draws extremely thin lines, held hair that creates subtle labyrinths, perilous, delicate, love traps. The chevelure is a veil, a weapon of seduction, a provocative reserve, a retained enchantment. Hair unites femininity, nonchalance, abandon, the textile, the fluid, the floral, the animal, the black flame. It is a battle flag of the night. According to The Song of Bilitis (1894) by Pierre Louys, the chevelure is a “black and hot wave” or a “stream of perfumes”… And since 2001, Hye-Sook Yoo often depicts immense, compact and heavy braids of hair, the pigtails of married women; and these braids evoke the somber interlace of serpents, or tight and tenebrous waves, or twilight clouds… In the prose poem A Hemisphere in Her Hair (1857), Baudelaire imagines the lover nibbling on his beloved’s hair: “On the downy shore of your hair, I get drunk on the blended odors of tar, musk, and coconut oil. Let me bite into your heavy black braids for a while. When I nip on your elastic and rebellious hair, it feels like I am eating memories.”


Hye-Sook Yoo paints, in 2005-2006, undergarments, black lingerie: bras, bustier, bodysuits, pantyhose or stockings. She emphasizes the intimacy that overwhelms, the secret that captivates. These undergarments are simultaneously enigmatic writings, calligraphies, codes, letters, messages that suggest the presence of a woman. They evoke that which Freud calls the “black continent of feminine sexuality.”


In 2006, Hye-Sook Yoo draws and paints immense dark hoods; hairy, almost animal, out of the ordinary, disturbing. These black hoods oppose Little Red Riding Hood; they evoke instead, perhaps, the wolf over the hills. And the dark-light of the rayon hood.

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