"Tutelary Spirit Tree and Stone Totem Poles" by Jang Jae-min (Hakgojae Gallery)
Layers of vigorous brushstrokes are painted on a canvas. It may look like an abstract painting at a glance, but if you examine it carefully you will find objects hidden among the rapid brushstrokes.
Jang Jae-min uses all his senses to remember the places he visits -- smell, hearing, sight -- then recalls the memories while he is painting. His works are done intuitively, and the artist’s intuitive nature comes through on the canvas. The semi-abstract paintings will animate the audience’s imaginations as well, as they interpret the artist’s memories.
The isolated, unfamiliar places are what inspire the 36-year-old artist and drive him to paint. His brushstrokes differ in intensity depending on the weight of his emotions and the clarity of his memories.
The installation view of "Owl's Forest" at Hakgojae Gallery in central Seoul (Hakgojae Gallery)
The exhibition “Owl’s Forest,” which runs through Nov. 15, takes its title from a painting that Jang completed in 2020. The painting “Owl’s Forest” is visible at the entrance. Last year when he stayed in Brittany, western France, he heard owls calling from the forest behind his apartment every night. The six owls are somewhat vague in shape and hidden behind strong brushstrokes.
The artist showcases 24 new paintings he worked on while staying in France last year as part of the Domaine de Kerguehennec Residency, including those he recently finished at his studio in Cheonan, 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
“I try to use multiple senses when I experience the places I visit. There are many senses you can remember the places with -- like the smell of water and the sound of rain. I try to encompass all senses into my paintings,” Jang told The Korea Herald.
Jang does not plan what he is going to paint or how. “I don’t plan details when I paint things. I may do some drawings before painting, but they are not really accurate. I don’t know what would motivate me if I set a goal to paint things in a certain manner.”
When he needs a break, the artist enjoys fishing from a boat on the outskirts of cities. Another work, “Upper Region of Reservoir,” is based on Jang’s memories of a reservoir in Gyeonggi Province. The large painting, 312 centimeters in height, shows the chilly atmosphere of the reservoir -- seemingly located in a valley -- through his signature colors and brushstrokes. Although he did not depict the raindrops precisely, visitors can easily perceive them splattering against the water’s surface.
Jang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in painting at Hongik University in 2011 and 2017, respectively. He earned the fourth Chong Kun Dang Arts Award in 2015. Some of his works are part of the collection of the Art Bank at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
By Park Yuna (email@example.com)