Korean Artist Project with Korean Art Museum
Log in  |  Register  |  Korean    Contact us

Home > Artists > View

Boyoung JEONG

Boyoung JEONG, Space Mom Museum of Art







Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email
Boyoung JEONG's Solo Exhibition_curated by Nayoung HAN
Boyoung JEONG

Full Size

Jeong’s painting primarily starts by framing the object in a camera lens. When the process is moved onto a canvas, through the act of painting, the absent substances are indexicalized into “objects with numerous meanings.” Space and objects in a painting are embraced and refined by a brush, and the silhouettes of figures undergo the process of dissolution. By carefully observing this progress, we can recognize layers of Jeong’s works that can no longer be read through the logic of representation or painting.

Boyoung JEONG’s Painting: Architectural Space and Vestige of Time

Jeong Boyoung’s œuvre since 1997 has been a constant attempt at a “conversation” with the medium of painting. Light is a dominant element in her paintings, along with representative figures such as architectural space, landscape, and still objects. Jeong has embraced not only perspective representation, the oldest tradition of Western visual representation, but Chiaroscuro and theatricality, two characteristics of Baroque art. The pictorial space that she has been constructing for over ten years portrays the process of her indexicalizing the “vestige” of ephemeral light, smoke, and air by means of canvas and brush. Through Jeong’s “series,” the transitory light of k?a?a is able to exist perpetually in the “here” and “now.”

Jeong’s emphasis has always been on observation and gazing rather than realistic representation of the object. However, the temporality the painter portrays does not take on a linear but circular perspective, and with her “brush,” the artist makes visible the invisible time and light with great psychological density. The painting series that points to Martin Heidegger’s spatial and temporal dimension of “Here, Now” depicts the gradual progression of an incident or of light. Jeong does not portray a realistic representation of such a procession, but presents a trajectory as “reinterpreted” through the artist’s eyes and mind.

For example, her work Being Divided (2004) portrays one incident, the spilling of water, in a chronological order just as Eadweard Muybridge had done through his photos of motion sequence. It is up to the audience to read between the lines, or rather read between the pictures. Jeong’s solo exhibition at the Kumho Museum in 2001 focused on her “Here, Now” point of view. This exhibition was a turning point for her, as it was through this exhibition that she portrayed time through the flow of light. Major works such as Become Dark, Being Limited, Lie One upon Another, and Brighter, Darker demonstrated how time could be “recorded” in a pictorial space.

Through solo exhibitions at Gallery Ihn in 2009 and at SpaceMom in 2011, Jeong experimented even more with light and darkness projected on both the interior and exterior of architectural spaces, all the while emphasizing the artist’s gaze. Such works can be compared with the kind of writing that experiments with “multilayered” interpretations of an object. Jeong’s paintings are reminiscent of Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara’s Date Painting series, through which Kawara continually recorded “today's” dates on black canvases. The meaning of Kawara’s date paintings can be fully appreciated only as a series, and such works offer the audience a consecutive narrative, all the while accumulating temporality.

Of course, unlike Kawara, Jeong brings in the allegorical aspects of life through usage of transitory motifs such as fire and water, and here the artist situates herself also as the narrator who moderates the communication between light and space. Also, Jeong portrays her architectural spaces as “temporalized” spaces. Her painted buildings are not the neat and orderly illusions of perspective representation. Rather, they present, as the artist says, “an alive space, just like some sort of ‘skin.’” Fire and water take on an informe figuration up to the point of making it hard to trace their figures, and the vestige of fire and water exists as indexical marks. For the same reason, Jeong explores the boundaries of objects through motifs such as stains on buildings, candles, chairs, tables, lights, Korean traditional doors, and furniture, and makes visible the communication between silence and light through works such as Looking and Flowing.

Such recording of traces is continued in paintings of the interior and exterior of buildings, and also in paintings where she depicts how light changes on windows where the interior and exterior meet. Jeong herself commented that “These motifs in my paintings act as ‘indexes’ that denote absence, not ‘icons.’ Because each motif indicates absence, that it has been represented would also premise its disappearing, thus denoting both appearance and disappearance at the same time.” The act of painting had primarily meant “representing” the object under the logic of mimesis. To depict a real object as similarly as possible on a canvas has been the main concern of artists throughout the history of art.

However, Jeong has broken free of the mimesis cycle and instead links photography with painting through the concept of “index.” In photographs, indexicality denotes the physical existence of the substance through vestiges, smoke, stains, and shadows. For example, my fingerprints and X-ray images are the most indexical traces. These “vestiges” are signs that denote one’s existence in spite of one’s absence. Fingerprints, especially, are signs that indicate one’s identity. In this sense, the traces and stains in Jeong’s paintings are signs that represent the absent substance.

Jeong’s painting primarily starts by framing the object in a camera lens. When the process is moved onto a canvas, through the act of painting, the absent substances are indexicalized into “objects with numerous meanings.” Space and objects in a painting are embraced and refined by a brush, and the silhouettes of figures undergo the process of dissolution. By carefully observing this progress, we can recognize layers of Jeong’s works that can no longer be read through the logic of representation or painting.

Let's look at Jeong’s work process. She uses a camera and shoots the same space numerous times. She has no interest in the personality or history of each location, but is fascinated by the force of such invisible elements as the accumulated light and air within the space. In order to make visible the immaterial light in her painting, the artist constantly stirs up change by rearranging the door frames or furniture of the room and thus creates psychological afterimages in that space. While the image in the picture is on static pause, the afterimages will constantly run through the audience’s mind.

The human body is absent in her work. However, the subject’s gaze that is represented by the chair projects both tension and relief into the empty space. Even before the advent of digital cameras, the artist did her initial sketching with photography and also catalogued her prolific work into a portfolio. This is the document, or archive, that proves her long study on space and time. These pictures demonstrate that the artist would continually observe one space, and then construct inside the frame the vertical and horizontal lines of the window frames, walls, and thresholds. Throughout this long three-step process, the pictorial grids would eventually dissolve, and the faint “color” and “ambience” of the room would appear.

Jeong’s study on space kicked into high gear when she held an exhibition in 1997 under the title “Multi-layered Approach on Representation.” In works such as Repeated Impulse toward the Object, or Impulse of Repeating the Object, Dependence on La Chose, Baroque Fantasy on Two Spaces, and Two Scenes on Death, she fully accepted not only the hyper-real aspect of Northern European art but the theatrical and allegorical interpretation of Baroque art. However, the titles of her paintings indicate that they are not mere mimicries or mimeses. Although the repeated representations of canvas, quince, mirror, and cloth are realistic, the reality that cannot be reached through mere pictorial mimesis is projected through the repeated act of painting. As the artist says, “the artist, through the desire of mimesis ... creates a painting, when it is actually the painting that creates the artist.”

However, as can be seen in the works from 2004 and onward, the architectural space of the inside and outside of a building acts as a “sign,” which illustrates the progression of time and the artist’s perception. After all, the buildings in Jeong Bo Young’s recent paintings indexicalize the invisible force of space, and construct the thought process of pondering on the essence of a human being through the vestige of absence.

Yeon Shim CHUNG (Art Critic/Assistant Professor, Hongik University)


Space, a boundary of the Sublime - Recent works by Boyoung JEONG

Although painting is an art of space, there are not many examples of paintings directly dealing with space itself. It drew my attention that one can hardly find the trace of such a tradition after the Italian Renaissance in the west. I wonder why. Once modernism arrived, Greenberg's theory on modernist painting must have shackled the tradition. Under the theory, painting is essentially two-dimensional, and it can be defined as a form or art, so long as it remains two-dimensional. Not only did they have to transform three-dimensional elements into two-dimensional ones, but also have major powers around the world come on board with the idea. Now is the time to break the taboo, however, it is still hard to find daring experiments on finding a new perception of space. There must be remaining barriers.

One possible barrier would be an obsession with the media. It is a great loss that people devalued experimental thinking of space in the aftermath of the 1980s “media era.” In the meanwhile, the multi-dimensional thought on space brought on by the quantum theory and cosmology has bloomed. The art community has not paid much attention to space, blinded by immediate interests. Image painting using media mushroomed all over, but pictorial search on space has made little progress. The search on space is falling behind the reproduction of images. 

These comments are timely for Jeong Boyoung, as she has continued her experiments on painting over a decade. Since the first solo exhibition at Gallery KEPCO Plaza in 1997, Jeong has repeatedly worked on the idea of approaching her objects "through space", instead of directly dealing with them. In the earlier stage, she experimented on the metaphysics of space by introducing the “mirror concept” of Lacan. For example, starting with works such as death of s and her space 1996, A Baroque imagination on two spaces 1997, From inside 1997, From outside 1997, she has developed the genealogy of a search of space throughout her works; From  deep space 1998, A space designed through a single viewpoint, and its opening 1999, Stepping aside the presence, proceeding into two directions  2000, Limited 2001, Divided 2003, Approaching 2003, Visit 2004, Looking 2005, Bright Room 2005, Staying 2006, Looking 2007, Looking 2008, Belonging-together 2009, Looking 2009.   With the series of her work in mind, I can't help but to think of her precedessors in the history of painting. The 'Window' by Alberti (Leon B. Alberti) from the Italian Renaissance comes to mind, then I am reminded of the metaphysical space by Jan van Vermeer from the Baroque era as well as that of Giorgio de Chirico from the last century. To make it short, her experiment of space reflects various perspectives such as psychoanalytic distortion and substitution, not to mention allowing both single point- and multi point-perspective space. This attempt is prominent in a series of paintings with a theme and title of , which Jeong has frequently presented since 2007. In such paintings, space is not a geometric reality but one that hints of the painter who is “looking” into it. Thus, it should be her main interest to present the difference between the old masters’ work and hers, while linking multi-dimensional spaces on canvas.

What is consistent about her passionate work, from start till now, is that she positions space at a boundary between the visible and the invisible. In that sense, the keyword of space she's gazing at and understands can't equate with that of Alberti's. While the latter's space can be interpreted as a boundary of visible objects, hers very much leans toward a boundary of the invisible. By emphasizing a cross between light and darkness as in Vermeer’s work, or adding de Chirico's metaphysical space, Jeong’s space exhibits mute-layered aspects, and hence is not a reproduction of the work by old masters.

In summary, one could say she treats the boundary between the visible and the invisible in a pictorial way. Here, “the invisible” can be explained in two different aspects. One is that of motives presenting and retaining objects. Without motives, objects can not exist. In the context, what we see is objects, not the space. When one sees the space, one sees the boundaries enveloping the visible. From another aspect, the invisible includes tiny objects such as microbes or atoms, something immense like universe, or concepts as mysterious as spirit or something spiritual as well as objects that are deeply inherent or transcendent.

Jeong's space reveals the latter's context in a form of the former. To borrow an analysis by Kant and Jean-Francois Lyotard, she seizes on a boundary of the Sublime. Jeong focuses on space as a boundary of the sublime by projecting silence and light, her absolutely personal motives, as de Chirico did, not to mention distorting parts of the three-dimensional geometric space by using an architectural perspective like Vermeer did. A boundary of the Sublime should be preceded by great distance between space and the subject. The Sublime is a boundary that one can not comprehend, as one is overwhelmed by unexpected power -- such as a wall of waves. When we call it ‘other-like’, it means one cannot control it, therefore there exists a certain distance between a space and a subject.

The space created by Jeong can never be the visual equivalent of her Cogito. To be more accurate, the space is ‘ a gazed object ’ that corresponds to the entirety of Jeong's corporeal subjectivity. A gazed object is an object that approaches the subject as the other. Thus the space can not be considered a space to be thought of. Or I'd rather say it belongs to the world of mystery. The world relates to one only when the unconscious libido stored in the inner mind materializes into a fantastic equivalent. The word ‘to gaze’ or 'to see in response to' does not mean a disinterested looking just when we say 'to see' or 'to see for seeing’s sake." With fierce and passionate interest, one takes part in a space without taking charge.

Jeong's space is not like Albert's in which common objects are elaborately positioned, but a space where her own myths breathe. In her space, Jeong borrows familiar, existing objects and positions them on a boundary of the invisible by separating them from a boundary of the visible where they never existed. By doing so, Jeong makes one see objects from the boundary of the invisible; apples, chairs, candlelight, light, darkness, and finally an architectural inner space in its entirety. The final result is a boundary of the Sublime.

The boundary Jeong depicts absolutely differs from de Chirico's egotistic boundary that he suggested in his surrealistic paintings in the 1920s. Instead, she suggests space as 'a boundary for the other.' In brief, she intends to create a space where one can breathe together with 'the other' in the other by borrowing the other, instead of revealing one’s thoughts by borrowing a space. Lasting time is immanent, and the space recalls a dignified presence as an objective truth.

For her pictorial experiment, Jeong introduces candlelight into an architectural space. She also brings in natural light and tries to combine darkness with light. Like in her recent work, belonging-together 2009, Jeong creates a space shared by one and the other by projecting and equating her view with an event with solid volume and mass such as candlelight or architectural space. In her serial work, Looking, Jeong also depicts a happening where one and the other belong together. They are neither an inner observation, nor a proliferation of ideas. Again, darkness and light cast in the space are not equivalent to simple cogitation, wherever she borrows the source of light, whether it is candlelight, the sun or an artificial light. They are a happening as well as light and darkness with an objective quality. Jeong borrows an indoor space as a medium to embrace them, although she sometimes adds an immense landscape connecting indoor and outdoor.

An inner architectural space doesn't suggest a simple and routine living space at all. A chair standing at the point where the dark or the light begins bears a specific value of a place preserving the space and presence left behind by the artist. Stains on the wall look remarkable and a heavy ambience created by a sturdy lattice and harsh vector space implicate the sublime. Windows leading to outside, rays of light from a door, and a landscape; all of them remind us of Alberti's “Window,” and yet they are about the other. They are the Sublime itself one has to resist and embrace. Jeong once wrote; 
Light emerges from complete darkness. The candle lights up to expose itself, moves closer to light itself, and adds depth to the darkness surrounding it. The candlelight contains the darkness it can't reach, while illuminating stains on the surface of the floor it rests. And this is how the candlelight embraces both light and darkness to the limit of time given to it. ? (2005)

In the context, elements such as candlelight, darkness, stains and light are objective qualities of an architectural space where the painter desires to identify herself with the other. They are the subject of her own desire and at the same time, Jeong is eager for them to be a quality of the Sublime and the other. That is the source of her recent work. With these methods, Jeong recalls the memories of a lost space. More actively, she materializes our generation’s concept of multi-dimensional space in a pictorial way, painting multi-dimensional micro-worlds hidden inside a massive three-dimensional world. She calls in the so-called concept of multi-directional world.
On the surface, Jeong's “space art” merges Arberti and Vermeer; however, it has a depth that hints at a possibility of contradiction and overthrow of reality just like de Chirico's works. It is a reproduction of a three-dimensional space, and then it alienates a single vanishing point by using light and darkness and creates contradiction. Using them, Jeong projects the oppression of reality and trauma onto the works, but also calls to mind a possibility of altering the reality. To do so, she experiences and ponders through meditation in candlelight, and then soon introduces a theory that such thinking faces contradiction. She intertwines the front and the rear to turn them into one and retains the method at a crossing point of light and darkness. This is the moment when the artist surfaces on the canvas as a story teller.

However, Jeong ultimately devotes herself to thinking of her own space in silence, as a painter not a story teller. That is her charm.

Bokyoung KIM (Art Critic, PhD. in Philosophy, Doctoral Professor; Department of Formative Arts, Sookmyung Women's University)