Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh Jung – Ja:

Feelings and Metaphors

June 16th – August 16th 2009

Korea’s Embassy in El Salvador and the “Museo de Arte”, present, in their MARTE Contemporáneo program, the following exhibit:

Oh Jung – Ja:

Feelings and Metaphors

Oh Jung – Ja is a prominent painter, in the world of Korean artists; she was born in 1945, year in which Japan’s occupation came to an end.

Whether her ancestors learnt the art of painting through Japanese instructors or were influenced by them, Oh Jung – Ja had the luck to learn this wonderful ability in a university of the now independent Japan.

In 1963, she began her painting career at the University of Ewha, and she specialized in oriental painting; since then, she has dedicated her time exclusively to painting. Moreover, Jung-Ja had the opportunity to learn about portraits from professors like Lee Yu-tae; about flower and bird painting from Cho Jung-hyun and about the modern sense of painting from An Dong-suk. She also attended the studio of Park No-su’s, who enjoyed Chinese painting. Thus, with the experience acquired from various outstanding professors, it is evident that Oh Jung-Ja has taken advantage of this experience until today.

Her talent has been recognized since the early times: she has been selected for the Korean National Art Exhibit for 8 consecutive times; she obtained the special prize in the Baekyanghoe y Mokwoohoe public contest.

After her graduation, in 1967, her independent exposition was put together, at the Hyundai and Sun galleries. Since then, up until today, she has displayed her works of art in a total of 14 exhibits; half of them have been abroad, including displays in Tokyo, Nagano, Washington D.C., Geneva, and Caracas.

Furthermore, Jung-Ja’s career debuted since the 60s and 70s with portrait painting, and in the 80s, she developed the animal theme, such as silk tent, pigeon, turkey, sparrow, magpie, as well as the colored fish. She also created paintings representing flowers, including lily, poppy and camellia images, which contributed to the ample themes her paintings encompass until this very day. Then again, despite working with various themes, her paintings are characterized by the splendid colors, the exact description and the balanced composition on the canvas.

In the last few years, her artwork has gone though numerous transformations, going from descriptive sceneries to feelings; in other words, her pieces do not try to reflect the image, but they do try to catch one’s attention through the ambiance represented on the canvas.

In addition, whenever the painting’s characteristic changes, so does the technique; however, artist Jung-ja never creates her works of arts by immediately drawing. What she does is that she utilizes a technique that emphasizes the material’s quality feel and tries to generate sensations through the light teal color.

Oh Jung-ja prefers to draw on creased korean paper, Hanji*, rather than on normal paper; whenever the paper is wrinkled, the evidence of the “ruin” remains, just as if a hurricane would have passed-by. Thus, the artist begins to produce her works focusing on the observation of the deformed surface, created by the wrinkling and folding.

Her technique is based on utilizing various corrugated pieces of paper, which are pasted all together to provide a strong and firm surface; this surface is then ready to be drawn and painted on. Standing before the paper, she uses the brush to color the surface with extreme care. The pigment she uses easily dissolves in water, and so, a few strokes do not show the color on the paper; one of Hanji’s characteristics, is that it absorbs color rather fast. Therefore, only after applying the paint for numerous times, the color is satisfactorily visible.

As a result, the fact that the painter repeats this process a variety of times must be to feel the intense characteristic of color, every time the pigment accumulates, and to deal with the peculiar texture of the Hanji. Consequently, this would be the reason for the huge effort she puts on this technique despite the many months of work an art piece, using this method, requires; since one cannot easily give-up on exquisiteness.

Something similar occurs with the work on silk. The soft surface that a piece of paper has will be different to the smooth and even texture of silk; however, color applied on paper is like accumulating snow. The color is not applied on one stroke, but in a gradual manner which augments the density; achieving a secret strength. It is in this, that time and dedication is invested; hiding the emotion and the thought of an aesthetic experience, and through this, one can perceive the beauty of metaphorical art - very unique and characteristic of the artist.

Furthermore, in her last art pieces, one can detect the sources of her inspiration, which have been the squatting pigeons, the owl and the solitary bird, bathed in moonlight. As well as, the tent that lies underwater, the bird that flutters its wings to fly, and the bird that comfortably rests in its nest.

Beside the images, one can also see the flower scenes with peonies, daffodils, Indian lilacs and camellias; all of which are blossoming radiantly.

If just observed lightly, this can be perceived as a simple flower or animal painting, but in reality, the images in the paintings are being used in a metaphorical sense, by the painter, as to portray the special meaning they possess. For example, the pigeon, the lonely bird, or the tent, all symbolize the ego or the man who finds himself in a determined environment.

Likewise, this is where the painter represents the moonlight, the soft waves or the extravagant flowers, etc., to provide relief and hope to those beings who are under strenuous and difficult situations. The painting displaying the bird with its fully extended wings, preparing to take off, or the one portraying the bird energetically gliding through the air, signify the action of setting yourself on the search of real freedom.

Excerpt taken from Un corazon calido, llevado a traves del pincel, Oh Jung-ja, by Seo Sung-rok, President of the Korean Painting Critics Association.

Hanji*: Hand-crafted Korean paper, made from Morera tree. This paper is mainly used for traditional painting and calligraphy.

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