Updated: Mar 10, 2021
My artist name, Yeh Song, comes from my great grandfather's artist surname "Song" (which means Pine in Korean). He was a famous calligrapher outside of Seoul and some of his work is exhibited at the Jeonju Art Museum. His artist name was "Sul Song" which means "snow on a pine." Kim Ki Chang, otherwise known as "Unbo", was one of his students in calligraphy. Unbo went on to become one of South Korea's most acclaimed modern artists. My grandfather, "Woo Song", and Unbo were close friends and when my grandfather started an art gallery in what is now the famous Insadong art district in Seoul, Unbo used an upstairs space in my grandfather's gallery as his studio for many years.
This legacy pulsed through my blood and I never understood the significance of my passion until I started to pursue my art over a decade ago. My father created the name Yeh Song for me because it comes from my Korean name "Yeh In" which means Wisdom and Humanity.
I work in all mediums. My preferred mediums are sumi-e and egg tempera. While very different, they are also similar. Sumi-e is a traditional form of Japanese ink painting where you take compressed tree ash and grind it into a stone palette. The idea is to prepare your mind and meditate, to set your intention for your painting. Similarly, egg tempera is an ages old form of painting dating back to ancient Egyptian times using the yolk of an egg as a binder and pigment powder. To apply egg tempera, a board must be prepared with gesso which is tedious and time consuming, needing multiple layers of gesso that are dried and then sanded down and resanded to get a perfectly smooth surface to paint on. The yolk creates a luminescent quality to the many, many hundreds of layers of paint that are carefully applied.
The preparation of the ink and gesso boards, while tedious and time consuming, prepare my mind for the creative process of thought to tangible form.