Between Dream and Reality: Jongsuk Yoon’s Wall Paintings
In her first showing in Scandinavia, Korean-German artist Jongsuk Yoon takes over the largest exhibition hall at the Nordic Watercolour Museum with her immense murals.
Born and raised in South Korea, artist Jongsuk Yoon has been living in Europe since 1995, and is currently based in Düsseldorf. After exploring conceptual ideas in complex knitted pictures at the beginning of her career, she has been entirely on drawing and painting since 2012 — and since then has constantly been employing bigger and bigger scales to work on. Now, her work can be found in many public collections, including Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; the Zabludowicz Collection, London; Sprengel Museum Hannover, and Museum Ostwall, Dortmund. At first glance, Yoon’s seem to belong to the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, but when one takes a closer look we see how it is embedded (and thrives) within a structural in-between space: well acquainted with both East-Asian and Western painting traditions, her works are often experienced as a space in which the two can encounter each other and mingle. Not only that, but her paintings are spaces in which line and plane, colours and monochrome, as well as abstraction and narrative elements are all present, and flow in and out of each other.
Taking over the Nordic Watercolour Museum’s largest exhibition hall, the scale of Yoon’s paintings in the space is quite remarkable to see. Without a plan, preliminary sketches, or other preparations — her work is developed during a state of meditation and deep concentration, and her muted colours and frequent changes in perspective pull viewers in. As the landscape elements and gestures at the surface are reminiscent of traditional calligraphy styles, beneath them lies tranquillity and silence. Describing her creative process as a process of constant communication with her paintings, Jongsuk Yoon says “My ideas – she says – take shape on the canvas as I paint. The finished image is not in my head. It is the painting itself that tells me what to do”. This so-called “web of relationships” likens her paintings to “Mind Landscapes” (a title of a solo exhibition of hers at the Museum Kurhaus Kleve back in 2017), as they oscillate between the dialectic realms of real life and poetry, dream and reality.
Jongsuk Yoon’s “Wall Paintings” is on view at the Nordic Watercolour Museum (Skärhamn, Sweden) until September 13th, 2020.
Cover Photo: Jongsuk Yoon in front of one of her murals at the Nordic Watercolor Museum, © Kalle Sanner.