By representing both the two and three dimensional, the organic and the architectural, the imaginary and the fantastic, along with scenes from everyday life, artist Jung-Yeon Min creates an unfamiliar and complex world that is in a constant state of metamorphosis. Textures and forms merge in what becomes an unlikely collision blurring the boundary between interior and exterior, and open up an intricate maze of opportunity within the canvas. What makes one so irresistibly drawn to Min's works is the variety of sensory experiences within her mysterious yet strangely familiar spaces. I would like highlight the transformation of Min’s practice from her early work at École de Beaux-Arts in Paris until today.
In 2004, Min had her very first solo exhibition at the Korean Cultural Center of France while she was still attending École de Beaux-Arts in Paris. The works at this time focused on narrative story telling. She did not title her works; instead, her paintings were decorated and "woven" with countless dots and lines which told of fantastical and dreamy stories. For instance, the sea was illuminated with two bright suns; or, the red earth was covered with people clothed in white for a ceremonial parade; or, fossil-like gold animals swam in the dark waters under a transparent canopy of branches and leaves; or, a cold image where writhing people, transformed into leaves, frantically cling on to branches; or, people falling in a shaft looking like the insides of an organism. Min’s originality came through in the immaculate perfection of colors, forms, texture and composition. Presence in her work came from the rich and delicate techniques and expression rather than on her telling of a richly detailed story.
Min’s practice encountered a turning point in the year 2005 by showcasing a temporal and spatial shift. Not only did Min start to move freely into and out of the canvas with more freedom, she gave form to her own memories, experiences and premonitions in her work. Min began to explore the canvas by opening, twisting, converging and expanding the surface. The foundation of her new work motto became Agrandir Mon Territoire which was also the title of four works.
Min’s generation lives comfortably in an abundant bottom-less ocean of images, yet Min does not and is not forced to choose between the duality of apparent conflicting concepts such as the concrete and the abstract, the geometric and the organic, and the micro and the macro. Instead, to her, every image has value and she is interested in their interaction and how they coexist. The combination of these images gave a freedom to Min’s expansion within the pictorial space. The self-portrait became a repeated motif and ushered the viewers into a world of familiar experiences also suggesting that the images unveiled on the canvas were representations of Min’s own experiences.
Min’s work in the year 2006 created new world environments that coexisted and blended together by using everyday situation in combination with dreams and memories. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom were no longer solid, concrete spaces consisting of four walls with ceilings and floors. Rather, they became dismantled boxes floating in the air. Strange, unknown objects with an organic and dynamic force infiltrated the small realistic rooms. These organic forms permeated all surfaces and didn’t differentiate between inside and outside, micro and macro, fiction or reality. Rather, they demolished the last remnants of reality, the final fringes of the realistic world that the artist situated herself within. The “territory” of Min continued to push against the boundaries suggested with titles of work such as Passage, Souvenir du passé, Amnésie, Somnolence, Rêve and Conscience Quake. With fragments of actual experiences as the basis of these works, the mechanism of dreams and memories were presented in a fresh way without irony according to the logic of desire. One encountered an unexpected connection to a poetic experience where metaphors and symbols were uncovered.
Min’s inquisition in her practice lies between the consciousness and unconsciousness, memories and oblivion, the mechanism of dreams and thoughts on other worlds. This could be thought of as a legacy of surrealism because her paintings focused on visual narration and on discovering new poetic expressions. Min’s works are sensory experiences, exploring the physical, tactile, and, even at times, auditory senses. For instance, in Vide, there is a crescendo created by a well-sharpened knife cutting at the surface of a ham in combination with a character that clutches at his ears in a cringing pose. Together these actions make us hear the sharp sounds filling the whole canvas. Or, in Trou Noir, the shape of a hand is inconspicuously drawn on an oozy organic puddle around a black hole and makes our vision tingle with the sense of touch. The earthy yet fleshy forms in Desert are created through color. Min uses pink, a dominant color in her work, and the mid-brown shades to add a voluptuous feel to her images. Here, as the colors mix with the neutral bright green, color creates mood and atmosphere. It corresponds to a balanced impression of nature, where both the external and internal nature can be shown. On the other hand, the monotone surfaces, floating objects showing both outside and inside, repetitive circles and stripes create disruption within this consistent space. Ultimately, Min’s techniques lead to what she describes as “an extreme or paradoxical dialogue between two contrasting worlds.” The intended discord provides an opportunity for the canvas to find its own dynamic force. Min appropriately places and uses the perceived and the sensed, allowing the painting itself to become dynamic and expand into an unknown world. In turn, this ushers the viewers to develop various forms of senses. When the works become a trigger for sensory receptors, then the paintings supersedes an imitative representation of reality.
The artist, who has been painting as long as she remembers, has undergone drastic stylistic and thematic changes over the last numbers of years. Her accumulated talents and skills have finally found an outlet and flood onto the canvas expanding and deepening into all corners. The robust structure also provides persuasion toward a contemporary surrealist-inspired image. The artist has invented methods to link a physical reality with an imagined reality, and as she travels in and out of the paintings with an ever-increasing vocabulary. This allows her works to become even more richly layered and complex. The continual metamorphosis in the painting of Min is rewarding and one is eager to anticipate the next dimensions that Min will open for investigation.