The Inexhaustible Immensity of the Sky


There is an undeniably powerful sense of the sublime in Min Woo Bang’s paintings. His skyscapes have an immediate visual attraction, suggesting the majestic language of classical European landscape paintings, but transposed to a place that is both familiar and strange. Something is conjured out of nothingness in these pictures, the ephemeral beauty of clouds organised into the record of fleeting dramas that conclude with the setting of the sun.


Bang’s use of perspective, often setting his roiling clouds above mountains and forests, gently directs the viewer’s eye to the centre of the picture. The artist’s love of 16th and 17th century European landscape paintings can be found in these kinds of compositions, where the details of supporting scenery, say a suggestion of a tree or a branch, or even a range of mountains, act as a frame to the central subject – the sky itself. And by using the Australian landscape as his key subject, Bang also suggests in his work not so much a Romantic lineage, but perhaps a more Gothic imagination.


Bang’s paintings reinstate this idea of the majesty of nature into art, in what he calls ‘the inexhaustible immensity of the sky’. Working from hundreds of photographs taken on annual field trips to the mountains in January when the summer rains roll in, Bang creates sketches and preliminary small works in acrylics and oils in preparation for the move to a larger canvas. The paintings begin as abstract fields of colour as Bang works to find within them the form of the final picture, finalised under a silky glaze. He discovers within the paint the atmosphere of the picture, what the artist refers to as ‘another dimension for understanding the world.’


For Bang, it is nature that creates the image, but for the viewer there is a sense of another undeniable truth in the picture. Where the very chemistry of the atmosphere may eventually kill us, we are confronted in Bang’s images of our own momentary lives. This is both their power and their beauty.

 

Dr. Andrew Frost
January 2018

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