It’s not too late yet.
by Choi Tae Man, art critic and professor at Kookmin University Seoul/Korea
Grief omnipresent everywhere
Among the works that Kwang Lee presented in her first solo exhibition in Korea entitled “Black Pietà” in 2022 was “African Sanctus”, a small-sized painting of a black-skinned Virgin Mary holding a dark brown child. In terms of motive the painting is based on a Byzantine image of a saint, however, in addition to the black skin color, it also has the special feature that the halo of the Blessed Mother is represented as an indigenous African piece of jewelry. This unusual headdress with a pair of animal horns, identifies the work as a hybrid of a Christian depiction of saints and a traditional African work of art. A similar image, a black man with his face painted red wearing a headdress with animal horns, appears on the sleeve of a record by David Fanshawe, who developed the “Sanctus” that glorifies the holiness of God in Christian worship by combining it with traditional African music to become the so-called “African Sanctus”. Apparently, Lee’s “African Sanctus” was inspired by this record sleeve. However, the red color that runs down the Virgin Mary’s forehead like blood, reminds me of the bindi that Indians paint on their foreheads, so the African Sanctus appears to be a fusion of African and Indian traditional cultures and customs in Christian iconography. This hybridity of Lee’s “Black Pietà” is also consistent with Homi Bhabha’s theory of postcolonialism, which subjects the idea of cultural unity to a critique. In “The Location of Culture”, Bhabha took up Sigmund Freud’s concept of the “uncanny” and argued that it reveals a dual identity of the familiar and at the same time unfamiliar, not only in the colonial situation but in culture in general.
Born and raised in Korea, Kwang Lee witnessed the political confrontation resulting from the partition and the rapid economic growth in South Korea. At a later date while studying abroad in Germany, she also observed the post-reunification and the legacy of post-colonialism that persists in Europe. Even if an environment has been created that prohibits racism, whether legally or institutionally, and regards and considers discriminatory expression a “social taboo”, it has not completely disappeared from everyday life. The fact that a significant number of people of color still belong to the social underclass, engage in hard labor and inherit identity and social rank is the legacy left by colonialism and the cause of a dual identity that persists even in post-colonialism, liberation from the structures and norms created by the ruling class could not be achieved. Kwang Lee’s question begins here. Is the world we live in really “level ground” without difference and discrimination?
Hybridity appears in Kwang Lee’s oeuvre in a variety of forms, not all of which can be traced back to postcolonialism. For example, in “Body and Shadow pitying each other”, another painting from the “Black Pietà” series, imaginary creatures and mythological icons with important symbolic meanings in East Asian culture appear, such as dragons, the Chinese primeval emperor Fu Xi1, the creator goddess of the human race Nü Wa2 and the originally Indian messenger of the gods, Garuda3. In “Summoning a Soul” Kim So-Wŏl’s poem “Cho-hon” is composed on a golden background in such a way that its characters – consonants and vowels separated – surround the figurative motif on three sides, with the four syllables of the word “cheug-eun-shi-shi” (Engl. “compassion”) occupying the four corners of the picture as in an East Asian talisman diagram4.
“Mother of the Poor” is a work that draws the viewer into a world of complex symbols and allegories: The picture is divided into ten columns of ten boxes each, in each of which a fly is painted, while along the lower edge of the picture, painted in white, passes a caravan consisting of a heavily laden camel followed by people carrying huge grapes. This work, which the artist painted when she was shocked to see a fly stuck to the face of a starving refugee, proposes to examine hunger and poverty in a historical context by crossing the painful life of the refugee, the benevolent mother, and the history of civilization. Even if they are caused by rapid fluctuations in politics, religion, and the economy, the uprooted lives of hunger-stricken refugees are often the product of global crises, such as the loss of fertile soil and desertification due to colonial rule, deprivation, and environmental destruction. However, the artist appeals to universal love, not accusations or social remarks. The heart shape, the emblem of love, painted in one of the Virgin Mary’s eyes is repeated in another picture frame on the canvas as surrounding the eye, so it depicts that love is the departure towards redemption.
The complex structure that can be seen in the “Black Pietà” series of paintings filled with the dizzying superimposition of Christian, Buddhist and shamanistic iconographic elements, shows a state similar to the “horror vacui” of medieval Christian book illumination and also to the Buddhist painting tradition. Hybridity and fear of abandonment are characteristics of “Black Pietà”, which is not a critique of any particular religion or a confession of faith, but a projection of the artist’s thoughts and feelings about a variety of cultures. The meaning of these works is complicated because the chastity found in the “Black Pietà” is defined by mourning. It is the “Pietà” that represents Mary in grief holding in her arms the body of Jesus taken down from the cross. Even if it’s not the heartbreaking pain or bloodcurdling wails from a mother holding the corpse of a toddler, it is not difficult to find the pathos that permeates the heart. I, therefore, see a sadness that is omnipresent everywhere in the “Black Pietà”. This self-assimilation of grief is also the root of the compassion and empathy that Kwang Lee seeks.
Obsessive madness and liberation
Do you know “Dope” by BTS5? I was introduced to this upbeat song sung by attractive young men through Kwang Lee’s “Kwangpunglyu”. In 2021, the artist, wearing a robe with the Chinese characters 光風流 (Korean reading gwangpungnyu6, Engl. “light, wind, river”) painted on the back, presented a performance called “Dialogue” at the Korean Cultural Center in Berlin. A combination of dance and painting with the music of Korean jazz singer Charmin. In her workshop, the artist staged an improvisational act of swinging a brush as if to put herself in the rhythm of music such as the songs of “BTS”, “Sinawi Salpuri7” by Park Byung-chun8, and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Matthew Passion” and gave it the name “Kwangpunglyu”. Of course, I was not present at the location of this genre fusion performance, but I watched a video of it on the artist’s homepage. Admittedly relating to so little information leaves room for misinterpretation. However, watching the artist’s gestures I felt reminded of a mudang9. They were gestures as if begging or screaming, with quick strokes of the brush, when the beat was strong, but slow and flowing in unison with a different kind of music, composed and sustained, evoking baroque passion with a solemnity reminiscent of the Passion of Christ. As can be seen in the performing art of primitive cultures, art is closely linked to ritual. The ancient Greeks, for instance, performed a ritual in praise of the gods, in which no distinction was made between poetry, music, dance and theater, and called it “choreía (χορεία)”. If the priest sank into a state of ecstasy during these religious-artistic activities to receive a divine message, this was called “enthousiasmós (ἐνθουσιασμός)”. The term, which means “entering into God”, is also the etymology of the word “enthusiasm” in English today. Plato in his writings “Symposium (συμπσσιον)” and “Phaidros (Φαδδρις)” defined eros as an intense pathos impulse of the spirit that aims to the enjoyment of beauty. Spurred on by this imperfect and near-mad sensory impulse, the mind attains the highest degree of self-purification through harmony with the absolute being. Plato called this the state of self-loss, the “ékstasis (ἔκστασις)”. In Kwang Lee’s “Kwangpunglyu” performance, these are the immediately obvious gestures aimed at self-liberation, a kind of bliss (Korean yeollak 悅樂). I indeed detect an “obsessive madness” in the artist’s self-absorption.
Already during the Renaissance, which Jacob Burckhardt called the “discovery of the world and man”, the so-called “Furor divinus” was an important subject of study for Neoplatonists like Marsilio Ficino. Aristotle of ancient Greece held that man possessing excellent abilities in philosophy, politics, poetics and fine arts was a melancholy existence, and the Neoplatonists equated melancholy with Plato’s divine madness. According to later interpretations, Albrecht Dürer’s “Melencolia” is a mental self-portrait that represents “divine melancholy” based on medieval astrology and Neoplatonist literature of the Renaissance. That madness remained an important source of creation even after the Age of Enlightenment, when reason awakened from its slumber, as is evidenced by Francisco Goya’s dark paintings painted on the walls of a country house called “Quinta del Sordo”, or his engravings called “Los Caprichos”. In fact, Lee attempted to reinterpret Goya’s work from 2004 to 2006. Inspired by Goya’s engravings entitled “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, this series is a prime example of an artwork that has been reinterpreted in an expressive way.
By considering madness as a driving force of art, rather than merely dismissing it as unreasonable and irrational, one can discover the meaning and value of important aspects of art: Dionysian fervor, narcissism, and rapture. In addition, as a shaman, the artist will be able to broaden the horizons of his understanding of the world sought by Joseph Beuys and Nam-joon Paik if he accepts that he is not a being who uses supernatural witchcraft or magic to confuse the spirit of man, but a being with a highly sensitive sense and spirit that transcends the boundaries of reality.
What can be seen in Kwang Lee’s “Kwangpunglyu” is not a frenzy of ecstasy that grips the soul decoupled from the body, nor is it religious ecstasy or bliss. Entrusting the body entirely to the melody, the swaying of the brush becomes visible as the flow of lines on the canvas in a state of total freedom. Taking on the form of an abstract painting, this flow, as a path of breath and “Qì”10, is a non-reproducible sensual manifestation. The “swishing wind”11 that Kwang Lee expresses in “Kwangpunglyu” actually refers to a mild breeze like the one that blows on sunny spring days. It could therefore be said that the body’s surrender to a violent expressiveness or “sinful” melody is a process aimed more at freeing the spirit than at expressing the pain that threatens to tear one’s chest. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Sanskrit term prajñāpāramitā12 has the meaning “perfection (Sanskr. pāramitā) of wisdom (Sanskr. prajñā)”, but also means “reaching a world beyond”. Focusing on the latter translation, one could understand the term as meaning that “crossing the river of torment” can bring about peace of mind. But there is no such thing as an unshakable spirit. It, therefore, requires ascetic practice, and for an artist, it’s a form of self-abandonment. Lee Kwang’s work passionately visualizes this struggle and process of self-abandonment that the mind must inevitably undergo in order to reach the state of enlightenment13. I therefore read the traces left by the artist’s hand on the canvas as a swell of her spirit. In Kwang Lee’s ”Kwangpunglyu”, possibly inspired by Park Byung-chun’s “Salpuri”, the image of a dancing person appears, but if you resist the temptation of the reproduction image, you can meet the flow of lines and colors created by the convergence and diffusion of energy. What remains on the picture surface, which appears spontaneous and autonomous at the same time, are the rapid brushstrokes, the light of primary colors and a surface on which the artist’s tense breath seems to have accumulated. But why did the artist name this work “Freedom of Karma”?
In East Asian Buddhism, the idea of Karma, which originated in ancient Hindu thought, is represented by the Chinese characters 業 (Korean reading eob) or 業報 (Korean reading eopbo). Karma as a result of actions in previous lives is closely related to reincarnation (Sanskr. saṃsāra). The liberation from the bondage of “Samsara”, meaning “cycle of wandering without beginning, end, direction or purpose”, is called “Moksha” (Sanskr. mokṣa) or “Nirvana” (Sanskr. nirvāṇa). This causal thought appears in Buddhism as the “Four Noble Truths”14, namely of “suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the path that leads to the end of suffering”15. The teaching that life is suffering and comes to enlightenment only when this realization is followed by the annihilation of the cause of suffering by ways of renunciation of all attachments is comprised in the so-called “Heart Sutra” (Sanskr. Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdayasūtra), condensed into the following formula: “Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering.”
In order to free herself from the pain of reality and from obsessive attachments, Kwang Lee chose the pseudonym “Mua” (Sino-Korean 無我, Engl. “without self”) in 2009, which she has been using ever since. As can be seen from this pseudonym, the artist searches for wisdom both in the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism and in the thinking of earlier times. Therefore, she made the sentence from the eighth chapter of the “Tao Te Ching”16, known in Korea as “Sangseonyaksu” (上善若水), her motto serving self-supervision: “The highest form of goodness is like water. It benefits the ten-thousand things without striving with them.” In addition, shamanism and the mythical world depicted in the Kofun murals of the Goguryeo period are among the sources drawing her work into the world of symbols and imagination. Kwang Lee’s works transcend this boundary without being tied to abstraction and form. The expression of subjective emotions and inner visions creates a world of uplifting expressive passion on the picture surface. Her thoughts and work, which are more closely related to mythos than to logos, are therefore not “determinism”, but rather processual creation.
Dignity of Empathy
In Lee’s early œuvre, many works reveal the characteristics of referring to or quoting from art history. Not all art history, but certain currents or artistic personalities that pique Kwang Lee’s interest and stimulate her inquiring mind by expressing human suffering in a bold manner, such as medieval Gothic, Northern Renaissance, Goya and Vincent van Gogh. One of her works, for example, which shows a close-up of a twisted hand nailed to a cross, is reminiscent of how Matthias Grünewald depicted Jesus’ hands in his Isenheim Altarpiece. If the punishment of crucifixion is presented only as a holy and noble sacrifice, the torments that Jesus must have endured can be completely eclipsed. A devout believer will not feel disgusted at the raw Gothic expressiveness that still emanates from this altarpiece today. Rather, he will fear to begin to groan himself, as if he were upon the cross, in an act of empathy in that utter human pain that Jesus suffered in martyrdom for the sinners of the world. Kwang Lee had already contemplated and raised very serious questions about death in the form of skull-like vanitas-depictions, from 2005 to 2008 in a series entitled “crucifixion” she finally tried a unique interpretation of the phenomenon “pain” through the shape of only certain parts of the body, such as crooked toes, teeth revealed in a screaming open mouth, eyes that light up with a bang but indescribable glow, and flesh as a mass of nothing but protein.
The truth of painting, if it doesn’t aestheticize the pain, is able to create a pull. This can be called the “charisma” or “aura” of the painting. Interpreting in her language and repainting in her way the squatting posture of an old man deep in sorrow, Kwang Lee fell into that sorrow. It is a feeling of compassion, not mere sympathy. Where do this compassion and this empathy come from? The artist says that growing up in a disadvantaged environment herself, she thought early on about how she could free herself from pain. These fundamental questions naturally led her to an art that allows the freedom of self-expression. After graduating from Hongik University in Seoul, she went to Germany and studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Markus Lüpertz, who had achieved fame with painting in the neo-expressionist style. The influence of Lüpertz as a supervising professor, who figuratively expresses reality and at the same time emphasizes reality’s “prophetic vitality” is manifest in Kwang Lee’s work.
After more than twenty years in Germany, rather than assimilating into German society, Kwang Lee pondered what her identity as a foreigner was. It was her trip to India in particular, for which she even took a leave of absence from her studies in 1995, that aroused her interest in the “suffering human” and made her awake to this topic. The memory of that voyage, a chaotic mix of sacred religious passions and the gruelling lives of the so-called “untouchables”, would haunt her for a long time to come. In addition, it was the memory of war and division, which did not fade in German society even after reunification, the appearance of people with darker skin who immigrated to Europe and led a laborious existence here as “others”, it was neoliberalism and war that led her to reflect more deeply on the suffering of the human being abandoned from the earth. The implementation of an exhibition and various cultural activities in an alternative cultural space opened by Kwang Lee in Berlin on the subject of the so-called “comfort women”, a system of sexualized violence and sexual slavery that women in Korea and Asia under Japanese military rule, reflects the intention to evoke sympathy with history through the theme of pain. Of course, the issue of inhuman violence is not limited to wars, terrorism and crime. Violence through discrimination as a cause of conflict between races, genders, generations and classes makes people physically and mentally ill. The violence that man has inflicted on nature is boomeranging back on us in the here and now in the form of a destroyed ecosystem and the resulting climate crisis.
Kwang Lee notes the causal interrelationship between inflicting violence on the one hand and suffering damage on the other, which are no separate phenomena but connected. Therefore, it seems important that I myself can be an “other” without alienating my counterpart by stereotyping his “otherness”. The acceptance of contradictory situations and the sense of empathy that flow into the intense subjective vision prominent in Kwang Lee’s work eventually depart from the initial purpose of self-purification and self-healing and turn to the “other”. In other words, her work is a window into empathy and communication with the “other”. From this grows the dignity of empathy. Her attitude is reminiscent of the thinking of Emmanuel Levinas, who believed that we could only become an ethical subject by accepting responsibility for the “other”. Kwang Lee’s œuvre of simultaneous exploration of the visible and non-visible world is the result of an artistic passion that dreams of freeing itself from suffering through painful surrender to suffering, and so she says today. The revolution that preserves the self and at the same time transcends the self takes place in the here and now. It’s not too late yet.
1 Chinese 伏羲, Korean reading bokui
2 Chinese 女媧, Korean reading yeowa
3 Chinese 金翅鳥, Korean reading geumshijo
4 Kor. bujeok
5 a Korean boygroup
6 gwangpungnyu and kwangp’unglyu are different forms of romanization of the identical Sino-Korean term
7 Salpuri dance is part of Korean shamanist ritual
8 a master of Korean traditional music
9 Korean shaman
10 Chinese 氣, Korean reading gi
11 Korean gwangpung or kwangp’ung (the latter an alternative form of romanization)
12 Chinese 般若波羅蜜, Korean reading banyabaramil
13 Chinese 彼岸, Korean reading pian
14 Chinese 四聖諦, Korean reading saseongje
15 Chinese 苦集滅道, Korean reading gojipmyeoldo
16 Chinese 道德經, Korean. reading dodeokgyeong
I wander around the Davos Lake.
By Yushin Ra
It is a beautiful painting, a calm and peaceful one. A lake, trees, leaves, ice, water, sky, Switzerland and Davos. The bright green white colors seem to be dreaming. The trees, the mountains and the lake only show their vaguely recognizable but not unfamiliar silhouettes. In this lyrical and romantic landscape, one should be able to relax. It seems, one one could say to be happy here.
erland and Davos. The bright green white colors seem to be dreaming. The trees, the mountains and the lake only show their vaguely recognizable but not unfamiliar silhouettes. In this lyrical and romantic landscape, one should be able to relax. It seems, one one could say to be happy here.
At the same time, it can be observed that the landscapes are a bit corroded. Corrosion causes deformation and blurs the borders between objects. So, the trees become a forest, the lake a mountain. Corrosion transforms a familiar object into something alien and brings forth never known faces. But no such corrosion can be seen in Kwang Lee’s paintings. The blurring here is not of this kind. The transformations shown here do not make us uncomfortable nor do they confuse us. At first sight, the corrosion of the contours of the objects seems to invite us to a journey from the real lake into a dream. But will we reach this dream lake at the end of the tour?
In the light of this question, let us focus our attention on the dots which disguise the large surfaces and dissolve themselves. By their number, they frame the landscapes. In some of Kwang Lee’s paintings they fill the whole area. Sometimes there is just a single emphasized one. What are these dots? Where do they come from? Do they belong to the landscapes or are they fragments of the light which is shining on the artist’s canvas? In one instance of focusing on the colorful dots, something interesting happens. The dots connect and form an invisible sphere between the viewer and the landscape. The landscape steps behind the sphere and the viewer’s gaze meets at first only the veil of the dots. We do not meet the landscape immediately. Directly reachable are only the dots which seem more real at this point.
The landscape had already lost its reality as it was being deformed by partial endlessness. Through the veil of the dots it becomes even more of a dream because a dream can only emerge on the backdrop of reality. But again, what are these dots which are real themselves but alter the reality into a dream? I want to insinuate that they are a consciousness. While being always there, a consciousness normally stays in the background. Only for special occasions, it emerges on the surface. In Kwang Lee’s paintings, a consciousness was summoned and dragged into the foreground. It is roaming around the painting as if it wanted to prove its existence.
When is the time when a consciousness is called on to come forward? When is one asked to submit an alibi of one’s own consciousness? It is said often, that a painting is a window to another world. The window as a medium is normally hidden in the pictures so that we see not a picture but a lake, a mountain or trees instead. The fact that we see only a picture and not the objects themselves, that they are illusions instead of reality, all that should normally be hidden in the background. The dots of Kwang Lee seem to be an inner indicator which exposes the illusion. They expose that what we see behind the veil of the dots is not a lake but just a picture. And that there really is only a consciousness who witnesses the illusions. In this manner, it puts the fact of being an illusion (or of being a picture) of the painting in the background and becomes the subject itself.
When a medium becomes visible, that is when its existence becomes known. Then it is all about truth. At what is Kwang Lee’s question of truth directed? Which truth is she questioning? Did she just ask about it. What is it? Is it the Davos Lake, a painting, an illusion, a dream? I know that the artist did not ultimately target this question. But it seems to me as if this question about reality and illusion made its presence felt during the creative process. The colorful dots floating around in Kwang Lee’s painting lead to this topic and appeal to us to seek answers.
The paintings of lakes of Kwang Lee were created within her project “The four Elements”. Water, earth and wind are often representatives of nature. But the old philosophers searched them for the elementary truths of the cosmos as well. This leads us to interpret Kwang Lee’s water not as an all enduring mother but as the first element of existence. Can the painting “Davos Lake” be read as a longing for substantial existence? Perhaps, you will be interested in considering this question yourself while looking at the paintings!
About Kwang Lee’s Water Paintings
By Barbara Birg-Rahmann
Kwang Lee‘s paintings become alive between day and night. The fading daylight veils the colours and blurs the forms. Our eyes get strained until darkness triumphs. The reflections of reality are enveloped by the night and become invisible to our sight. But nevertheless, they are still present.
In Kwang Lee’s paintings, the lakes of Berlin and landscapes of Davos are shining under a deep blue night sky in a mysterious light. It is neither an observed light like the objects of study for the impressionists nor is it orchestrated. The objects seem to be glowing from within themselves. Their very own essences are shining, strangely and familialy at the same time to the beholder. It is a vaguely sensed light which Kwang Lee is expressing. The darkness robs her of the most important sense for a painter but strengthens her perception of the hidden nature of things.
On the smooth mirrors of the lakes, the artist herself engages in a dialogue with the light. The surfaces form the canvas of nature. On it, we curiously observe the reality surrounding us. Through the refraction of light, it appears new to us and in unusual proportions. The movement of the water dissolves the static constructs. Kwang Lee’s pictorial compositions always direct the viewer’s attention back at the calm and still moving mirrors.
„The highest good is like water. Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.“ 1
The revlections do not build up any tensions. They live in peace while being certain of carrying the truth. The vessels of the lakes are filled to the brim with water. This element is bestowing the surrounding entities with their existence. Its strength can be felt through the interaction of the colors and through the compositorial work of its reflection in the environment.
In Kwang Lee’s creations, the body of thought of asian philosophy and the western painting tradition unite virtuously. She was educated rigorously to pictorial analysis at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf but turns regulary to unification in her intellectual classification. Wassily Kandinsky and his companions had to fight hard for the acceptance of “non-figurativeness” as an expression of the “purely spiritual”, the transcendent. And how far has this association become one with our western way of thinking. The asian art of painting never had to distance itself from materiality. And neither did Kwang Lee.
1 Lao-tse, Tao-Tê-King, The Complete Tao Te Ching. Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. Vintage Books, 1989, chapter 8.
Temperamental Paintings full of Symbols of Transience
By Meike Nordmeyer
Wuppertal. Die Künstlerin Mua Kwang Lee is positioned on the verge between representational and abstract painting. Leaning ometimes more, sometimes less to one side she brings both together suspensefully. The young Korean and Berliner-by-choice studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as master student of Markus Lüpertz. The Janzen gallery in the Kolkmannhaus is now showing her paintings and works on paper.
“Do not be fooled by the palatable colors.”, says gallerist Martina Janzen at the vernissage. Because the temperamental, fresh works deal with existential questions like death, pain, fear and sorrow. In the three landscapes showing an autumn forest one can see a skull and a monkey is sitting on a fallen tree. In another painting, a skeleton is sitting on a wooden chair. Candles and mirrors are further symbols of transience.
Repeatedly, birds or their outlines can be sensed. They allegorize freedom and impeded, cropped opportunity for development in particular. They are oftentimes linked to misfortune and anxiety. The monkey especially is an important symbol of the artist because of its ambiguity. In western history of art, it symbolizes greed, lewdness and malice. In Asia, it points to wisdom and is considered as a protective deity against evil.
They are profound paintings full of energy. The artist realizes this opulent colorfulness through egg tempera, oil and color pigments. She applies this mixture with dynamic brushstrokes and a gestural style. Sometimes, she paints over dried paint and creates multiple layers. The paths formed by droplets belong to the paintings as well, the painter wants to include the formation process into her imagery.
The exhibition’s eye-catcher is the large scale painting “Starry night in the Fischtal” from 2009 consisting of three composed canvasses. This nocturnal lake scenery with delicate mood and light reflections pays respect to the Monet exhibition in the Von der Heydt museum and shows a confident handwriting.