Hapkido Abstract

“Hapkido” may be a term that many people don’t know much about. It’s a term for a martial art from Korea, involving both close and long range fighting techniques. But the term itself is created from three language elements: hap, ki, and do. “Hap” means “coordinated, or joining.” “Ki” is used to describe internal energy, power, strength or spirit. “Do” means “way, or art.” The combination of these elements gives us meanings such as “joining-energy-way” or “the way of coordinating energy,” “the way of harmony” or “the way of joining spirit.”

A Martial Art Inspiring Visual Art

The martial art concerns itself with circular motion, the redirection of force or energy, and the control of the opponent. One could consider art in a similar way. Not so much as a matter of combat, but rather as an interaction between the artist and the viewer. There is an exchange between the viewer and the work that can be considered circular, for the viewer sees the work, has a reaction to it, looks again, and seems more, round and round between the two. The redirection of energy or spirit in the viewer may not be so obvious. Most representational art requires no redirection, for the viewer can easily connect with what is obviously familiar. But when art moves into more abstract areas, perhaps there is a bit of control of the viewer happening, in challenging expectations and leading the viewer into new considerations.

Karl Benjamin On Inspiration

In 2008, Hard-Edge Abstractionist Karl Benjamin, gave an interview to Julie Karabenick about his own work. In the discussion he shows that sometimes the artist him or herself can be the one challenged by the art.

                People tend to think we choose the directions we take. I didn’t. More and more geometric forms kept coming out in my work. I was trying to paint a beautiful picture and make it feel right to me. I just kept working, trying to get the right line, the right color, hoping that something would gel. You do this, and all of a sudden, your own voice has emerged.

“Stage II” by Karl Benjamin, 1958

“Stage II” by Karl Benjamin, 1958

For Benjamin, specific things spoke to him, leading to the types of work he produced. “Quite early on, I began to develop a strong sense of shapes and the areas in between them.” Over the course of his career, he moved further and further away from representational aspects into the abstract regions for which he is best known.

Abstracting a Spiritual Energy

Abstracting the spiritual energy is one way of describing Abstract Art as a whole. Diana Hobson’s art in particular vibrates with energy being shared with the viewer. Her painting “Hapkido” is one such example of that.

"Hapkido" by Diana Hobson

“Hapkido” by Diana Hobson

All art draws the viewer to engage with the piece in front of them. Abstract art may be more of a challenge for many viewers, but the results of taking time to feel a “joining” with the work can be rewarding. Abstract artists give us new ways of looking at things.


“Stage II” by Karl Benjamin, 1958, copyright Karl Benjamin, from the collection of Louis Stern. Reproduced here under Fair Use for instruction.

Interview with Karl Benjamin, by Julie Karabenick, May, 2008, athttp://geoform.net/interviews/an-interview-with-artist-karl-benjamin/

“Hapkido” by Diana Hobson, copyright Diana Hobson. Used by permission.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s