Jongsuk Yoon »Things I See«

22. Mai - 10. Jul 2004

The artist was born in Korea in 1965 and studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf with Professor Fritz Schwegler from 1997 to 2001. Following various group and single exhibitions in Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Belgium, and, in Germany, Dresden, Dortmund and Berlin, she is now showing her latest work, dating from 2003/2004, at Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer.

The works on view are on a scale ranging from 40 x 50 to 130 x 150 cm. Beginning by painting in acrylic on canvas, Jongsuk Yoon then covers certain areas with stitching. The slight physical relief of the areas of embroidery thread make colour the optical phenomenon to "colour matter" and the "paintings" acquire an object-like, physical quality. Frequently these colours are muted, related tones or again, of a distinct colourfulness that, always avoiding hard or harsh contrasts, still operates with a gentle harmony. in her early work, the letters and numbers flawlessly and painstakingly hand-stitched in bead yarn yielded no recognisable words or terms and were part of a tight mesh also in a compositional sense. Clear, ordered compositions told early of the fundamentally conceptual approach that opened the individual signs and symbols to readings both as symbolic and as abstract forms in their own right.

Since 2002, the artist has been organising the letters into sentences ranging in tone from the slogan ("How would you make the world better") to philosophical statements ("It was what needed to happen") - or on occasion, testifying to a highly individual, personal voice ("I have hearts, loves and fears, just as you have"). Sometimes the sentences decipher into a direct expression of pure joy in living ("When the sun comes up"; "What a wonderful world"; "What is the sense in that having a nice rose garden..."). Then again, into the seemingly banal sequences reflective, critical notes can enter, subtly ("I know exactly (...) where the last piece of protection is", or "Some of these butterflies are not like the others"). The written lines are often arranged as a block and fit harmoniously into the geometry of the works. Where they are scattered more loosely across the overall surface ("I have"), they effectively enmesh figure and ground more closely.

Over the past year, Jongsuk Yoon has been shifting her technique to applying the needle-and-thread elements to her canvases with a sewing machine rather than by hand. These "lines", made of a variety of ornamental stitches set next to or athwart each other, are by nature more graphic and original. The letters disappear and in their place, the "seams" take on the function of colour, interior form, structure and contour. Whereas this still proceeds with formal rigour in works like Deutschland, Gardens II, Garten, and Secret Garden, the same cycle of works reveals a marked shift toward figuration and portraiture (Tim; Lily and Paul in the Park; Isabella im Kindergarten) and away from the conceptual. Many pictures are of the airy lightness of watercolour paintings or the ethereality of a sketch, most intensely so in Summer, in which the "there" invokes notions of presence. Fairy-tales are suggested in the pictures, Excursion and Sohn und Vater. Two works are the exception to this basic structure: Insomnia, which alloys letter and word again, and Wirbel (Swirl), which intimates an abstract gesture of liberation.

The viewer never feels intimidated by Yoon's images but experiences them as interlocutors quietly biding their time. Different subjects (nature - flora and fauna, the seasons; beauty; communication; mechanisms of exclusion) are linked by the common thread of a snapshot vision out of daily life. Harnessed into images with an increasing spontaneity and lightness of hand, these structures and objects have an intuitive and illuminating way of reminding the perceiver of the positive and remarkable aspects of her or his own life.

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