On Jina Park’s Paintings_Hyunjin Kim


An essay from the exhibition catalogue, Dazed & Painted:9 Korean Contemporary Painters
17 April-15 May 2008, Seomi & Tuus Gallery, Seoul
(translated from Korean)

On Jina Park’s Paintings
by Hyunjin Kim (Independent Curator)

 Artist Jina Park often draws her acquaintances and friends enjoying their time together, usually in the outdoors, in a park at nighttime, or at a party. Around 2004, the artist, by mainly using a lomo camera, presented a series of paintings that captured objects or their movements in two or four frames at a second’s interval. In her solo exhibition Excursion held at ONE AND J. Gallery in 2007, the method of showing everyday life was shifting from a divided screen to a single canvas screen.

t is apparent that many of her paintings are being completed condensed in the movement of a brush that moves fast and boldly. Despite showing inarticulate and slack description that is far from detailed and multidimensional, the artist expresses very well the disposition and characteristics of a person as an object. It can be said that the important features of Jina Park’s paintings are the textures created by the stroke of a brush that is not thick but brisk, the color and the tone that are never light, the simple screen, and the simple lyricism depicted by these methodological characteristics.

On the other hand, there is no drama in Jina Park’s painting. Although the objects of painting are from the artist’s everyday life or personal encounters, she maintains well the perspective of an observer. It is difficult to find the artist’s own feelings in the paintings, as she does not idolize a particular person with some aura or show very strong familiarity or compassion amongst the people. Instead, it is palpable that a certain objective distance is steadily maintained towards a person or many people at a party or a picnic scene. The depiction of people with no particular facial expressions as well as the indoor and outdoor background of the dark night are repeated in many paintings.  This seems to give the impression that the main character is momentarily isolated or alienated from their surroundings.

For example, The Moontan series shows a nighttime picnic at a park and reveals tranquil resonance amongst a group of people who wish to exist as playful subjects in the dark at night. Their nighttime picnic seems very individualized and somewhat distanced, because they are gathered together but doing different things. This makes them look desolate and even awkward contrary to what we would expect from an impulsive situation, a crowded party, or a picnic. This is probably due to the fact that people are positioned independently of each other in the setting of a collective event. This series of paintings interestingly portrays the irony of coexisting relationship that is indifferent yet exists together against the broad blank space of the dark night. This seems to extend into people who are like an ‘island’ although they are gathered together, just like the artist’s artwork titled Island.

Recently the artist is working on new projects with a particular focus on eating. Food is fundamentally an element which adds fun to parties and social gatherings, but, in terms of appetite, the act of eating is the most pure thing to anybody. The artist pays attention to the subject’s power of concentration, exclusion from their surroundings, and the certain kind of alienation that shows strong contrast in that absolute instance, by drawing very ‘realistic’ and instinctive acts of picking up food at the moment of escaping everyday life, like at a party. The artist’s work A Park with a Pine Tree presents a woman who is absorbed in eating while holding a packet of cookies and staring far away in a rather typical academic composition. The general atmosphere that seems rather stifling is upturned by the red packet of cookies and at that moment it becomes an exit to the outside from this conventional painting. Also, she shows people who are concentrating on something near the DJ box, and the artist may be facing the momentary sincerity in the moment of deep immersion. That moment could perhaps be the experience of ‘dehors’ that forms the radical ecstasy by presenting another world we meet at that still moment, that is, by presenting immersion and alienation at the same time. We can face a certain, very strong ‘dehors’ in the very plain moment, through ‘certain’ subjects who are isolated in the midst of a crowd or who voluntarily become an island.

The scenes in the paintings of Jina Park invoke a lot of reverberations like this while being very plain. It is perhaps because those scenes are from the lives of friends and contemporaries who share a not-so-easy life and the values of life. The stroke of the artist’s brush, which plainly condenses their emotions and the textures of its everyday life with rather inarticulate description, reveals very well the textures of the young artists’ marginalized life which is relatively free and insecure at the same time. The distinctive characteristic of Jina Park’s drawings is the fact that the scenes captured by the artists from very ordinary fragments of life are guiding us to the intrinsic and abundant world of recognition and experiences and the artist’s methodological expression of painting is evolving with this.