“While people faithfully took the oath of fraternity with their true friends in the beginning, who would really stick with his true friends till the end?” All the classic stories and anecdotes of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei in the Three Kingdoms Period have been passed down through generations since ancient times, and the loyalty, righteousness and deity-like character of Guan Yu has been widely depicted, deified and worshiped in the folk culture and art.
After the death of Guan Yu, he was gradually deified through generations, and was widely praised and honored with numerous posthumous titles throughout the rest of the Imperial Period of China. Guan Yu was frequently revered as “Duke Guan (Guan Gong)” by people, and was even bestowed with the title “Guan the Holy Great Deity; God of War Manifesting Benevolence, Bravery and Prestige; Protector of the Country and Defender of the People; Prow and Honest Supporter of Peace and Reconciliation; Promoter of Morality, Loyalty and Righteousness” in the Qing Dynasty. He was further revered and worshiped as the “Saint of War”, which is of the same rank as Confucius who was honored the “Saint of Culture”. At this point, the cultural status and influence of Guan Yu as a military general in ancient Chinese history reached its peak.
In the regions where the traditional Chinese culture has been well preserved, people can easily find various statues of Guan Yu being enshrined and worshiped as the “Saint of War”. Since Guan Yu has been largely respected as an epitome and embodiment of “loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, righteousness”, he is a deity widely worshiped and revered in Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Guan Yu has also been worshiped as the “Martial God of Wealth”, meaning he can bring wealth and good fortune and ward off the evils to keep houses safe. In addition, Guan Yu is the exact epitome of “integrity” and has, therefore, been widely deified and revered as a holy deity by Chinese folk merchants, police officers, and entrepreneurs who regard him as a role model in their pursuit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
The extensive use of paper in the artworks of the artist Shin Ho Yoon is a subtle expression of the particularity of paper as a material. A single piece of white paper often leaves us an impression of being thin, fragile and extremely delicate. However, the viewers will experience a totally different feeling of the paper embodied in the artworks of Shin. More interestingly, he uses layers of stainless steel in his artworks in the same way as paper works. Paper and metal are both the opposite extreme of each other in terms of texture, and yet are able to shape and depict the same figure in an integrated manner, inevitably sparking more in-depth thinking in different dimensions.
Among all the forms of artistic creation of Shin, the most unique one is the expression of relation of hollow structures within the artworks, featuring the sculpture-like shapes and yet being different from real sculptures made of wood or marble. When people look at these artworks from different angles, they can suddenly experience a conflict with their own memory of the symbols they have been familiar with. Although an artwork is simply the ultimate depiction of the symbol they are known, the outcome of this depiction may trick them into having a totally different perception of this artwork.
Asian Art Works is honored to hold Shin Ho Yoon’s solo exhibition, featuring Guan Yu as the core symbol, to demonstrate his recent works from There is no essence series. With the unique artistic creation by Shin, the multi-dimensional space is neatly integrated into the artworks themselves, bringing us once familiar and yet fresh new artistic depictions of Guan Yu.