Whitehot Magazine

Cho Inho's Quiet Wandering: A Korean Travelogue through Ink and Wash

Inho Cho, Quiet Wandering, Seonang Rock, 2023, Muk (Asian Ink) on Hanji, 41x65cm


By ROBERT C. MORGAN February 14, 2024

One of the most exciting and understated paintings has come into the work of the artist Cho Inho. The featured paintings at the solo show titled Quiet Wandering have appeared to play a primary role in the artist's work thus far. As he walks through nature, his work becomes a standard means by which Cho’s paintings have become well-known; it is necessary to acknowledge his extraordinary work on many levels. Walking and painting are a duality – concomitant with Cho’s work – on many levels. Some years earlier, they appeared on a repetitive basis, what might have been called “a quiet ego,” which is reflective of his inner contemplation. More specifically, Cho’s art world continues his work together with nature.  

In essence, these paintings depend on how we think in the process of seeing, namely about how light and dark space complement one another with a surface density. The darkest areas in the paintings suggest a delegation of space given to the periphery of the edges, whereby the inward and outward spaces of the paintings suggest how the surface density is visually held together.

Here Cho has worked from the wealth, diversity, and depth of nature’s heritage. This could imply a sense of the timeless endurance or exhaustion found within natural landscapes, which Cho incorporates into his artistic process. Cho's artwork demonstrates the interaction and interdependence between external and internal realms, which shows how the process functions between outside and inside as if there were only one surface to catch the meaning of the whole. A holistic perspective in which all aspects of the artwork, both internal and external, contribute to the work’s overall significance. It implies Cho's paintings capture a unified essence or meaning transcending individual elements. 

Inho Cho, Quiet Wandering, Songjiho Beach, 2023, Muk (Asian Ink) on Hanji, 41x65cm

In Cho Inho's artistic journey, the mountains in Korean culture cannot be overstated. Throughout the history of the Korean people, mountains have held a profound spiritual, mental, and cultural significance. While the artist may have yet to have the opportunity to personally traverse revered national heritage sites such as Mt. Baekdu and Mt. Geumgang, Cho Inho sought consolation and inspiration in the natural landscapes beyond his everyday life. Venturing beyond the confines of urban spaces, Cho immersed himself in the beauty of mountains near Seoul and explored various noble natural spaces in the distance such as Mt. Seorak.

Within the mountains, the source of Cho's desire, the home of the great artists – are the sources of nature where he must go to re-discover who he is. As Cho walked among the towering peaks and verdant valleys, he experienced a communion with nature that transcended the boundaries of time and space. In these moments of quiet contemplation, just as the ancient Taoist sages sought harmony with the natural world, Cho Inho, as a modern individual, strove to reconcile his own existence with the timeless wisdom embodied by the mountains. Through his art, Cho sought to capture the essence of this spiritual journey, inviting viewers to join him in a quest for understanding and enlightenment. 

Inho Cho, Quiet Wandering, Beach Near Seonang Rock, 2023, Muk (Asian Ink) on Hanji, 31.5x63.5cm

It is a fact that Cho is currently a professor at Seoul National University, where I once had the pleasure of teaching as well, that there was little doubt of Cho’s profound qualities. It was further evidence that Cho not only taught Korean traditional painting, but remained actively engaged in other major projects that led him persistently in new directions. To be able to work for oneself while at the same time among others further suggests a nearly heroic ability whereupon the artist has the ability to determine a new path consistently in the midst of others.

Over varied periods, the opening of consciousness and coming to terms with immense qualities of leadership were also seen as areas that led to signs of strength beyond normality. Not only does Cho retain the ability to press forward in his career, he makes clear his full-fledged desire to overcome difficulties that may intercede with his work.  He is a master in his field, consistently coming to terms with issues of nature both inside and outside, not to mention his ability to reconstruct ways of being in the world that are timely and attentive. Cho remains on both sides of the Pacific; capable of his artistic destiny with unwavering determination. Indeed, it is likely that Cho will continue to shape his artistic landscape for years to come, guided by his insatiable curiosity and boundless creative spirit. On view February 15, 2024 through February 29, 2024 at ACC Gallery Tenafly in New Jersey. WM


Robert C. Morgan

Robert C. Morgan is an educator, art historian, critic, poet, and artist. Knowledgeable in the history and aesthetics of both Western and Asian art, Morgan has lectured widely, written hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published monographs and books, and curated numerous exhibitions. He has written reviews for Art in AmericaArtsArt NewsArt Press(Paris), Sculpture MagazineThe Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. His catalog essays have been published by Gagosian, Pace, Sperone Westwater, Van Doren Waxter, White Cube (London), Kukje (Seoul), Malingue (Hong Kong), and Ink Studio (Beijing). Since 2010, he has been New York Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, both published in Hong Kong. He teaches in the Graduate Fine Arts Program  at Pratt Institute as an Adjunct Professor and at the School of Visual Arts.


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