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Jeoungeun Lim

Jeoungeun Lim, Total Museum of Art facebook


1964, Dogye


Painting, Installation



Traces of Cube★2016July09(Work-In-Progress view_Ilwoo Space, 2016

3min 40sec

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Light and Shadow Synthesized for an Optical Illusion

Lim, JeoungEun’s glass work portrays diversified themes, dealing with two basic categories- plane figure variations and installations. Plane art works involve glass etching, in which Lim uses the sand blast technique that is the spraying of compressed air and emery powder that polishes the plane of a glass plate, thereon constructing a geometrical form. Although the basic module of her artistic productions are based upon square shapes, applying the etching techniques (distinction of light and shade) enables her to transform plane figures into different configurations that look as if they are three dimensional.


The artist piles up glass plates at a consistent distance. Lim tends to pile up two to three plates of glass together, but in some cases, she combines several plates of glass in order to accentuate an illusion effect. The shadows, produced between the space of two glass planes, blend in with the overall art piece, highlighting the color contrast of the glass squares. The art piece goes on to produce an optical illusion through the variation of square and cube figures produced by the glass plates and its shadows, stimulating a feeling of weightlessness and infinity. Hence, an optical illusion is not an abstract aspect of her overall work, but a core element created with the help of shadows. The limitation between images and shadow, reality and a virtual reality, actual existence and fabrication, subside, often shown via illusion games.


Along with acryl or glass plates, Lim has adopted mirrors as materials for her recent art pieces. Mirrors enable her to enunciate the square and cube forms, maximizing the efficacy of optical illusion. She piles up similar or different materials one on another (utilizing a glass plate, which on the front side shows an etching and the back, displays a partly scraped mirror) both amassed to increase an ornate illusion.


In terms of her installations, the artist prints (using stencil techniques) various different geometrical figures and alters the color of her artistic production by baking it inside a kiln at 200 to 300 degrees. She installs the glass plates vertically and horizontally, which creates a larger illusion effect when more glass plates are added to the piece. The form and colors of the glass creates a certain tone in the shadow on the wall. The combination of the image and the shadow blends in with the image of the glass plate’s surface, thus creating a stained glass (or the way one looks at it, it can seem more colorful) effect that resembles the smoke of incense burning. The colorful mix between the images and shadows generate excitement for the audience, who has the liberty to create their own interpretation of the artists’ work (the images are defined upon the viewer’s discretion). The artist’s work serves as an emblem of interplay arts.


In her recent art works, Lim's installs the glass plates in a diagonal direction instead of installing them horizontally or vertically, deriving a consistent change in the illusion effect. The significance of her recent work, involves the printing images in the corner of the glass plates. The printing on the glass plate’s surface are installed to be in accord with the wall which makes a toned shadow on the wall’s surface. Certainly, the image of the print on the glass plate and the shadow on the wall’s surface creates a mass that looks like a sequenced shape of a cube. Lim also uses round shape glass plates to give change to form or piles the glass plates to formulate a cornered shape (for example, reiterating the glass plates into a zigzag form) associating her work with optical art that maximizes the effect of illusion.


Indeed her art work is based upon the artist’s internal interest in the Universe and the fundamental idea of existence. Lim’s work is connected to the principle of essence, and this is shown through the basic modules of squares and cubes that diversify into geometrical shapes. Lim considers the square and a circle as the emblem of the world’s basic figures. A circle, which seems closed from outside the line, actually epitomizes an ongoing chain of reaction that continues to go around and around. In terms of the square, its sides may represent closed doors, but on the other hand, these sides or doors can define a sense of safety or stability.


Accordingly, the square is as table form and the cube which is a variation of the square is a module of the universe (a grid or lattice form, which is the smallest unit of a digital image). Upon this idea, the world’s smallest unit is consisted of combined articles representing the idea of fortuity and necessity. Ultimately, this idea portrays the harmony between reality and ideology through geometrical shapes. In this context, geometry is neither a coincidental and contingent art of science nor a supplement of different forms, but is in itself a product of pure art. Harmony, balance, rhythm, and proportion that are considered to be the rules of traditional aesthetics (manners or style) are based upon mathematics or derived from geometry. Here with, Lim’s art work internally deals with the world’s fundamental respect for existence expressed through the shapes of squares and its variations. As a result of this, we can see her intention to reorganize or reconstruct a world through decorated formality.


The artist’s ideology on fundamental form is connected to existence and light. If squares and cubes (the reformation of squares) are illustrated as pure figures or ideological forms, then light is how they become visible to the human eye. In other words, light gives birth to form and color. Light brings about colored surfaces and colored shadows and ultimately is the deliverer of the interaction between images and shadows- the fundamental subjects of optical illusion. Light meets transparent materials such as acryl and glass plates, which enhance the images far back. When light meets the reflections on a mirror, the images expand further from its boundary into other surroundings. Like so, light permits images to diversify as well as allowing them to expand further from its mark, decreasing the preconceptions of boundary. Thus, the boundaries of in and out become ambiguous and image (reality) and shadow (fiction) lose their demarcation. Shadows are considered most often to be but a remnant of images, but shadows actually are more strikingly significant than the image itself in the artist’s work. Shadows transform a plane image into cube-like figure, ultimately adding a sense of discreteness. Along with that, shadows emphasize the illusion effect of the art piece when the colored surface and shadow blend in together.


When viewing Lim, JeoungEun’s work, words like reflection, mirror, transmission and permeation come to my mind. All of which combine aspects of the inside and outside, abating limitations. Her ideas are based upon the idea of interconnection and connotative meanings. She transforms a square, the smallest unit into a cube, or a shadow and expands these images into larger form of space. Her works carry out the ideas of equivocal, non-deterministic states and the open structures of existence, based upon her main idea about multi-existence and double existence. These ideas have been shown through her life’s work, which have been attracting great appeal from her audience. What could have been merely a mechanical idea put together through geometrical reiterations became a rather colorful kaleidoscope of images and shadows with the help of light.

Kho, Chung-Hwan(Art critique)


Imagine-A Stroy of Light


From the dim past, light has been recognized as "sign of soul" in that it exists even without substance. Light was the "symbol of beginning", which distinguishes day and night, good and evil and material and mind, as it exists by contrast with darkness. In the western fine arts, the process to be aware of light was the one that people newly become aware of the meaning of world and existence. By recognizing light density, the painters infused new sensitivity into forms, and they came to realize autonomous order of line and side as they perceived the change of light.

As time flew, painters began to project their personal "echo of existence", rather than to find religious meaning from light. Thus, light, which was once a symbol of God, became the sensuous language that grasps objects, became the formative independent element, and finally became the aesthetic reality itself. Even though light is a sort of physical wave, it has a property of particle. So, light exists, crossing between material and non-material. Also, light is a domain of space, and at the same time it stays in the flow of time. It's because light is clearly perceived by eyes, but its state endlessly changes in the space. 

Thus, light comes to us in a very short moment like a moment, but it makes the wave of emotion that changes every moment according to eyes and body movement. Lim, JeoungEun's works, using "color shadow", make us dramatically feel basic beauty of light and sense of poetic space. Her works, which can be called "glass engraving", are created through the process, such as printing colors on thin glass plate with Serigraph(stencil) and thus adding colors, and baking them in glass pot at high temperature. Her works also use Sandblasting technique, which is generally called "glass etching". Those techniques create transparent and delicate shading and density.

Basically her works consist of square and cube, which are the most stable forms in visual aspect. Thus, if we see her works one by one, they are the planes that are made up of simple geometric pattern. Even though their simple form approaches to us as abstract order, it is also the metaphor for our daily living space such as house, room, building and city. Meanwhile, it is also psychological symbol that implies the sense of stability obtained from strictness and the comfortableness in the secretly closed space. In that sense, Lim, JeoungEun's works are architectural. Probably, even the domain in which light is seen most naturally may be the architectural space. In the architectural space, light variously reacts to angle of eyes and body movement. The reason why the painter likes especially Le Corbusier and Chapelle N-D, Haut, Ronchamp is closely related with this. In practice, her early works inserted architecture or city into grid and anisotropic material.


Her works are placed according to her thoroughly calculated intention that considers projection angle of light and shadow. The most frequently used method is "overlapping" and "arrangement". For instance, she makes thick plane by overlapping several pieces of glass plate on which image is engraved, or places several decade pieces of glass plate on the wall by arranging them in a line vertically and horizontally. If we see it in a certain way, it is the simplest placement method though, it creates delicate spatial layers as light is intervened in that simple space. According to her saying, "Every time & spatial layer is the one that is made by gathering simpleness." If light and shadow, color and form and surface and space delicately get joined together according to lighting angle and eye direction, they make the image that changes every moment. Those images are a picture and at the same time virtual image and real image.


In case of "Stain Glass", light image is subject to light form or space, due to obstinate contour line. However, since pure color shadows make images in her works, they make more mobile and variable space. That space diversly transfers the emotion wave through the mutual exchange between light, color and space. Light merrymaking, which is performed by diffraction and interference of "color shadows", comes to us as a fantastic atmosphere like a world in a fairy tale though, on the other hand, it healthily arouses the original property that light has. Thus, her works deliver basic joy, differently from the way that we see the splendid effect of artificial light ray, which was introduced in the name of technology.


What we have to pay biggest attention here is the phase change that her works show to us. Grids and cubes, which repeatedly appear in her works, are not the geometrical constitution in Euclid's sense. It undergoes the phase change in which plane is transformed into three dimensions and again extended to multi dimensions. That change of dimension is consecutive and simultaneous. It implies that it is not the fixed one starting from glass plate but the variable one, and also the visual point is not the fixed one but the mobile one. As she mentioned, eyes and phenomenon, virtual image and real image, and "visible one" and "invisible one" is not the dichotomous exchange of looks. It is "senses' immanent possibility" that can be variously expressed and diversely

extended into a number of forms even in a short moment. In a sense, the clearness of eyes may be the product from instrumental and narrow reason-centered thinking. Since the center of modern viewpoint, which is symbolized as the disappearing point of perspective, was the one and only, it was the privileged one. However, can the only and privileged eyes return the world to the uniform order? In Lim, JeoungEun's works, the paradoxical factors such as material and non-material, mutual infiltration between surface and depth and geometrical rigidness and fantastic motive co-exist. That geological layer is a mobile and variable field, and is the open world in which material, consciousness, eyes, phenomenon and perception infiltrate each other. The attraction of Lim, JeoungEun's works lies in finding the possibility of open boundaries.

Lee, Dong-Suk(Former Art Researcher of Busan Metropolitan Art Museum, 1964-2004)


Speculative Nomadism Interchanging Between Perception and Illusion

One of the main assignments taken by art historians is to grasp the world of artists and locate them in the context of art history. This is very hard task in that they diversify form and content of their work consistently, and it is almost impossible to draw the line between genres and styles. There is no exception in artist 'Lim, JeoungEun’s work. As discussed so far in the essays on her art world, what’s the matter in Lim’s work is not its content but its form, and we thus tend to presume that her art is relatively closer to Formalism in contemporary art. It is believed Lim’s work can be expounded in terms of artistry as formal logic since the modernist era. But this is not so simple as we expected. The reason is as follows:


As noted by a number of art critics such as Arthur Danto, we rediscovered extended corporeality in the extreme of minimal. It resulted from the conscious and attitude contracted by fundamentalism but again inflated by concentrated gravity. If a reaction against two-dimensionality returns to a presentational attitude, and that still remains as significant discourse in modernism, we should reconsider Lim’s work. This is why Lim has changed the path of her art from physical existence to pure imagery. Lim seems to stay far away from the main tendencies of the times. Of course, there is no need to respond so sensitively to any trend, but Lim’s art is excessively independent.


Lim has other types of works comparable to her own work. This affinity, however, is just formal, not essential. In terms of a formal similarity, her work is compared with Vicor Vasarelli’s or sometimes Daniel Buren’s recent mosaics. When comparing domestic artists with foreign renowned artists, Korea’s art theoreticians often underestimate Korean artists or otherwise, consider them comparable with internationally reputed artists. On the contrary, they present something uniquely Korean as the token of Korean people’s superiority. (This is largely a result of Orientalism.) I would like to exclude Lim, JeoungEun from these all evaluations. This is why in terms of form, her art is comparable to others and moreover, creates her own narrative structure. I would never say that her art remains par excellence. That derives from some distinctive quality of her style.



Lim’s work is mostly based on reflective and permeating corporeality. The structure of her form is mainly created by glass and mirror. Her work begins with this form, not ends with it. Her approach to reality and fact is made unconsciously. Reflection and permeation are not made as a manifestation of refusing a physical world or the concreteness of a fixed form. For Lim, JeoungEun, this is the problem of a pictorial quality. It seems that she intends to solve one of the main issues in modern art in an extremely naïve manner.


Departing from a mystic approach to light in the Middle Ages, an optical exploration of light, namely an attitude to address light scientifically, is of great significance in modern art history. It has extended to the exploration of light and color in the Impressionist era and pathological visuality in Op Art. Lim’s work can be seen as an extension of this tendency, independently experimenting it. Her work seems to transcend the boundaries between mysticism in the Middle Ages and optical perception in modern times.


In her work, this mysticism joined with aestheticism, evoking a pleasurable feeling eventually. In an optical tension, Lim specially employs optical phenomena to confound our normal perception. We feel vertigo between the reality of visual phenomena and optical illusion.


This illusion turns out to be realistic through a pictorial conception advocated by the precursors of modern art like Leonardo da Vinci. Painting is a mirror or a window. Painting is an act of lending a realistic quality to an illusory world, and corporeality is recovered by giving up this imaginary quality. Lim, JeoungEun intends to retrieve this history of perception. She signifies that this illusoriness is the only principle of painting left for us. In other words, Lim seems to claim the recovery of forgotten tradition, but explains it in a new formative language. That is a pleasurable attitude toward such traditional structure.


The mirror and glass in her work generate a layer of illusion, bringing about a dualistic illusory effect through a reflection of exterior reality. Such illusoriness occurs at the intersection of the inside and outside, and her work is the place of such occurrence. A perspectival structure in her work appears also complete, but she reveals how it is so abnormal and deceptive. This proves that her art remains independent from any tendency in contemporary art. If slightly exaggerated, this is a de-geopolitical attitude of thought in nomadism. Lim’s work thus shows a paradoxical attitude affirming and negating a principle simultaneously.



Ornamentality is one of the essential elements forming Lim’s work. It appears as a form of retrieving patterns and order. The artist consistently pursues this order in both two-dimensional I am not sure this term is properly used and three-dimensional wall installation. Her geometrical structure was originally ornamental. Lim’s ornamentality can be explained just by recalling the fact that the term ‘ornament’ originated from a Latin word ‘ordo’referring to order. Ornamentality is a formal structure repeated in order and constructed in this context. In this respect, Lim’s geometrical structure may appear familiar with its ornamentality slightly different from an abstract architectural structure.


Actually, her work has an architectural quality in that it can be applied well to any architectural structure. Her ornamentality, however, is in no way dependent on architecture. If so, I probably mentioned her work’s affinity with Donald Judd’s. This ornamentality as an architectural order is intrinsic to her, and if joined with any architecture, it may become a superstructure. Lim’s work shines especially bright in an architectural space, and has the force to distort and draw it into its new order. Is Lim’s work particularly marked by this trait?


In terms of this ornamentality, what she pursues is not a mere representation but a creative order. What’s the matter is the principle of her ornamental form is applied simply to her two-dimensional structure, and its order appears rather banal. Through a combination and installation of glass plates, she seeks various possibilities and offers diverse solutions. However, that always resulted in a two-dimensional reflection.



In Lim’s work, the concept of installation is significant. While most of installations come to an end as a one-time event, her installation can be displayed in an exhibition and maintain its physical shape after it. Through separation and synthesis, her artworks appear individual and comprehensive. These ways enable her to present a wide variety of works. Considering economy of art, they provide an outstanding formative solution.


As mentioned above, Lim pays attention to diverse ways of displaying artworks. While ways of communication in common artworks are generally unilateral, her work remains interactive. Lim may present new types of works by adding diverse elements. Her work may raise a counter argument against modernist fundamentalism. It also has the possibility to become an outrageous challenge to a fixed notion that a work of art is single and unique.


In an imaginary world created by reflection and permeation, Lim disclose the fictiveness of painting. She expanded the sphere of her activities in an independent, alterable world, in pursuant to her own order. Any kind of tendencies and currents of the times cannot be applied to explain her work. If ceaselessly exploring her inner development and new plasticity, she will create her won tendency someday.

Kim, Jungrak(Art Critic)