Shin Jung Deok’s recent series Kaleidoscope has been named after the optical device that yields varying colors and patterns as several mirrors inside the tube reflect beads, pebbles, or bits of glass. Invented by a Scottish physicist in the early nineteenth century, ‘kaleidoscope’ was derived from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek καλός(kalos; beautiful) and εἶδος(eidos; form), hence “the observing tool of beautiful forms.” In Korea it is referred to as Man-hwa-kyeong (萬華鏡) as its colorful patterns are endlessly transmuted with no identical patterns showing up again. Shin has created his Kaleidoscope wherein all things in heaven and earth, from tiny particles to the whole galaxy, seem to appear and disappear in accordance with the eternal order and the shifting state of generation and demise. It is quite an ambitious project to capture both the structural order and the phenomenological state.
Structure and phenomena constituting the seemingly dual composition of Kaleidoscope are in fact founded upon a holistic principl eencompassing both, which is ascertained in the artist’s career of more than thirty years. The trajectory and traces of his art bear witness to an overarching consistency throughout differing formal experiments: an all-inclusive, holistic universe. Since the 1980s Shin had explored the primordial energy of life in informel abstract canvases of subdued palette and rough texture; by around 2000, he moved towards an all-over composition in much brighter tone on which he superimposed prepared patterns; but soon afterwards flowers, stones, or human figures began to appear as a generative force of the rhythm of life.