Jin Jeong

Jin Jeong (b. 1993, Seoul, South Korea) is a painter based in New York, NY. Jeong received an MFA from Hunter College in 2022, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017. She has had solo exhibitions at Half Gallery, NY (2023) (2022); Long Story Short LA, LA (2022); FAS, Seoul, South Korea (2021). Her work has been featured in Purple Magazine, Artmaze Magazine, Whitehot Magazine, New American Painting, Voyage Chicago, and Friend Of the Artist (FOA).
May 23, 2023
Tell us about your practice.
I am a painter who creates oil paintings inspired by nature. I use abstract, organic, and anthropomorphic shapes in my art and incorporate various colors, paint opacities, fluid brush strokes, and reactions with the raw linen. The raw gray linen serves as a foundational base to express movement, vitality, human-nature relationships, and emotions through oil paint colors. 
My art is complex and goes beyond mere relief or reflection in nature. It starts with self-awareness and questioning throughout the painting process. I strive to find a language to convey abstract narratives with a sublime sensation. My art incorporates metaphoric aspects of energy, as Taoism focuses on energy. Even the imagery in my work depicts the movement of energy from water or geology. I aim to create a sense of breathable space by heightening my sensitivity to visualize unidentifiable sensations.
You’ve described your paintings as “emotional landscapes” – can you talk a little bit about what that means?
I call the body of work “Emotional Landscapes” because I, as an observer, need to let the viewer know that whatever emotion they feel or are aware of depends on how mindful they are of the spectrum of their emotional fluctuations. The sense of weight, atmosphere, and fluidity I only feel in nature are difficult to explain. But through “Emotional Landscapes,” those serene sensations, experiences, and subtle nuances can be illuminated by my instinctive insights, abstract painting language, and gestures of consciousness. The primary purpose of “Emotional Landscapes” is the transference of the various levels of sensation of being grounded, of comfort, and having space to breathe. Ironically, to convey this feeling, I felt drawn to create a painting without engaging with my emotions, instead to describe the specific feeling by creating weight, speed, and flow through logical decisions stemming from classical Western abstract landscape painting references. 
There’s almost a dancer-like quality to your paintings – can you tell us a little bit about your process? How much is improvised on the canvas vs. sketched and planned out?
In my painting process, I use liquid paint to create large brushstrokes that form horizontal and vertical lines, allowing for flexible eye movement. I vary the brushwork by adjusting the opacity of the color and refining the forms at multiple angles, speeds, shapes, and weights. This creates a dynamic composition with the empty space on raw linen, demonstrating openness, looseness, and reconciliation between colors, textures, brushwork, and a central focal point. The natural linen also creates pockets of space throughout the imagery, which I call “Air Pockets,” allowing for emotional and physical breathing room for the viewer. These formal elements symbolize a connection and experience with nature and inspire me to listen to my voice.
I try to remove my emotions from the decision-making process to convey an elastic sensibility. Since I do not tend to sketch on the side to plan and transfer the precise imagery to linen, I must rely on logical decision-making to convince the viewer. I use a combination of luminance with little marks, sprinkles, and formal elements to construct a convincing picture so the audience can apply their own emotions. Moreover, I work with layers of different oil paint applications and have to decide what to cover and expose, adding more contrast to tricky colors. Mistakes are difficult to correct due to the thin painting surface, so I have to be completely calm and focused while creating. I cannot let outside emotions interfere with my art-making.
Your color palette feels very signature to you – can you tell us a little bit about how you think about color in your works?
I use heavily contrasting colors to convey the weight and variable tones of colors and to separate the foreground from the background. The abundant layers of color, tone, soft and hard brushstrokes and broad levels of transparency and opacity symbolize the diverse abstract languages throughout my stream of consciousness. Furthermore, I aim to provide an emotional experience rather than a lecture about nonsensical connotations. I strive to recreate the “aliveness” we see in nature and wildlife by using high-contrast colors that resonate with the feelings of being rooted, settled, still moving, and flexible. To achieve this, I use myriad colors with different temperatures, complementary colors, and tonality to portray dynamic, turbulent movement. I choose not to create representational pictures on canvas but to generate a glimpse of intense natural light sources. Additionally, I use the gray of linen as a neutralizer that interacts with the color of the raw linen to create subtle, vivid colors that are neither cool nor warm. The use of complementary color contrast maximizes the temperature of each movement of the brush, creating a powerful vibration composed of more delicately layered tones.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I have been obsessed with Pierre Bonnard recently again. I want to crack the way of his thinking and seeing the light in reality. His visualization of light using colors and brush strokes with hard and soft edges and slight mark-making are significant for my next challenge in my art practice. Based on my last visit to Mojave Desert and Zion national park last January, I am very excited to attempt to merge Bonnard’s insights for color and treatments of paints with his representation of the desert scene on the West Coast. Since it is an intuitive and spontaneous experience that humans can only feel in nature, there is a clear intersection between philosophy and aesthetics, the “sublime” and “spiritual,” regardless of Eastern and Western painters. Thus, I seek for the different approaches toward painting in the East, and the West are connected since modern painters utilized similar methods to show their mutual connection to Mother Nature and each other.
What’s next for you?
I am excited to share an upcoming two-person show with Richard Diebenkorn at Van Doren Waxter in NYC this September and participate in a group show and several art fairs with Half Gallery throughout the year. Alongside my preparations for these events, I am eager to explore isolated and vast natural environments to gain fresh insights for my artwork. Being surrounded by nature provides me with a sense of tranquility and allows me to reflect on my relationship with the environment. My work is no longer influenced solely by Western painting and history but reflects unique perspectives and experiences. The mountains, forests, deserts, and rainfall offer me a sense of comfort, awe, and a connection to the teachings of Eastern religions about our relationship with Mother Nature. 

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