2011 Itzhak Goldberg
Not that clothes are absent from the art domain. Ample or tight, they could accentuate the sensual volumes of a body or make it disappear behind a protective frame. As an attribute, dress, like any other component contributing towards the staging of the human figure – poses, headdress, gesture –, introduces a well codified social distinction. Yet, shell or attribute, dress or costume existed as a paragon, an element added to the human figure. Before the 20th Century, it was unthinkable to conceive of clothes isolated from the human body, as the veritable subject of an artwork.
What more, dress is not like any other object. A second skin, even when detached from its owner, whose presence or absence it inevitably evokes. The works of modern artists play on this relation following the degree of proximity that exists between the absent body and the outfit, giving the latter either a metonymic or a metaphoric role.
Strangely, representations of this theme in the works of the Korean artist Yoo Hye-Sook, do not fall under this specific symbolic function. Admittedly, reality is suggested yet there is clear artistic freedom and affirmation of the creator’s savoir-faire. The fascination these clothes exercise on the spectator can be explained by the fact that the painter no longer considers them as a motif in a general context, but as a separate element, unconnected with the rest of the world, with its own characteristics.
The technical term ‘to crop’ clearly defines the particular nature of this. The cropping operation, originally used by photographers, consists of delineating the contours of a photographed object in order to detach it from its context and to isolate it on a neutral background. Thus delivered from all parasitic elements, the work gains in presence but is simultaneously transformed into an untouchable icon, secreting its own space.
These objects that float on a white background seem strangely devoid of all function, of all transitivity; they no longer relate to doing but to seeing. Actors or accessories, they have thus become plastic ‘agents’.
A stimulating activity nevertheless, as the gaze could not remain neutral when faced with these works. These objects release (signify?) a sensual charge – lust, hairiness, warmth – fur without a body is presented as a quasi-autonomous support of erotic fantasies.
Is it the fact that the author of this text is male? That is probable. However, the artist speaks of a certain animal feeling that resides in her. Yet, it is probably also the pictorial procedure used by Yoo Hye-Sook, the meticulousness of the treatment, which produces this effect. Painted onto smooth acrylic surfaces the materials are covered with an infinite quantity of tight pencil strokes in variable sizes that form folds and pleats creating a texture suggestive of tactile sensation. Suggesting without veritably showing, is that not the principle itself of eroticism?