Excursion_Eunjoo Lee

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Text by Eunjoo Lee(curator and art historian)
from Jina Park's catalogue, solo exhibition 2007
(translated from Korean)


Excursion

 

Jina Park’s third solo exhibition, held at ONE AND J. Gallery, is titled Excursion. Considering that her previous solo exhibition at Kumho Museum of Art was titled Leisure, it’s quite obvious Park’s repeated subjects of interest are the leisurely moments of everyday life.  The works shown at the exhibition Leisure were about very ordinary activities like stretching one’s arms or having a snack. These works were part of a larger “Lomography” series inspired by one of the Lomo toy cameras that produce four shots of the subject matter within a single picture. The commonplace activities of the people in the painting, the unconstrained aspect of time enhanced by the Lomo camera, and the artist’s neutral style of brush stroke all depict peaceful moments in a very casual way.  Just as the title of the exhibition, the works portray the looseness of leisure time like that of a warm spring afternoon.

 

As one can tell from the title Excursion, Park’s recent works also focus on leisurely moments.  These works inhabit a space that does not easily fit within the traditional categories of work or play but rather captures those everyday moments that sometimes escape our consciousness. People enjoying the night breeze at a park and friends out on a picnic all make their appearance in the recent works. What has changed is that instead of painting four shots in a sequence, she has begun to put things together within a single frame. Using a regular camera instead of the Lomo has caused such change and its requisite modifications to the composition of the works. In the “Lomography series,” the artist refused to condense all the formative issues into a single frame and instead experimented with various possibilities in painting within the four sections. In the recent works, the artist integrates those issues addressed after the “Lomography” series into a single frame and a single scene highlighting her interest in compositional shifts.

            

The most significant of the recent works is the “Moontan” series. The humorous title is a play on “suntan” as the works portray people out on a moonlit night at a park.  All of the subjects are focused on their own individual acts, be it drinking water, picking something up from the ground, or taking ones hand out of their pockets. All the acts are so ordinary they cannot be remembered if it not captured in photographs yet each act cleverly reflects the characteristics of the subjects. Park first extracted samples of these acts from different snapshots and then united them into a single frame. For this reason, the people in the painting look somewhat isolated as if on an island floating in the sea. However, Park arranged them accordingly in one night scene to create an alluring composition. It would seem that putting together these unrelated acts requires more delicacy from a compositional aspect than of those works from the “Lomography” series.  Furthermore, the strong black background of the night measures off half the entire work adding to the complexity of creating a cohesive composition.  The “Moontan” series shows a clearer map of where the artist is headed.

 

The man who repeatedly appears at the right corner of all three “Moontan” paintings is especially eye-catching. In jeans, sneakers and a hoodie, his slanted posture and slouched shoulders make him look careless but also somewhat rebellious. The repeated appearance of this posture shows that the artist is fascinated with the mood this posture creates yet one can’t help notice the neutral way that the subjects are painted.  While the artist keeps a certain distance and paints in this neutral way, the works exude certain sentimentality.  If the “Lomography” series portrays the sentiments of a leisurely afternoon, the “Moontan” series portrays the cool breeze and the underlying excitement one feels under the afterglow.

 

Such sentiments are what make the viewers enjoy Park’s works.  The viewer shares the affinity or interest the artist has in the ordinary aspects of everyday life.  The artist does not directly show people her “daily” life but opens it up just a bit to allow the viewer to have their own experience of these moments.  The originality of Park’s work lies in her interest in the ordinary aspects of daily life and the way she places the subjects of these ordinary aspects into the logical form called painting. 

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