Jongsuk YoonOctober Sky

Public Exhibition
Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture / House of Art České Budějovice
Czech Republic
8 Sept8 Oct 2023
In September and early October, the House of Arts is dedicated to Korean artist Jongsuk Yoon’s first exhibition in the Czech Republic. In her work, Yoon – considered one of the most inspiring artists on the contemporary international scene – combines Western and East Asian painting tradition.
Jongsuk Yoon was born in 1965 in Onyang, South Korea, and moved to Europe in 1995. She studied at the Münster Academy of Art in 1996 and the Düsseldorf Academy in 1997–2001, before completing her studies in London, where she studied for a master’s degree at Chelsea College of Arts in 2004–2005.
Yoon’s portfolio includes numerous exhibitions and interventions in Europe, America, and Asia, and her work can be found in many private collections, museums, and galleries. In 2000, she received a grant from the DAAD in Berlin, and in 2019 she did a residency at SoArt Millstättersee in Spittal an der Drau.
The work of Jongsuk Yoon is founded on both Asian and European tradition. Besides Asian ink painting and cave paintings, another important influence on her art was her encounter with the important twentieth-century German Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose paintings were mainly characterized by the dynamic expression of inner emotions instead of focusing on the external characteristics of objects and landscapes.
Yoon’s work is all about the “path,” the process – not reproduction. She herself refers to her paintings as “landscapes of the mind” – inner landscapes in which color and shape, surface and gesture overlap and blend into a poetic narrative. The landscape is not understood primarily as representation but is an expression of a certain state of mind. In other words, Yoon remains faithful to the emotions typical of Asian painting, giving them preference over the faithfulness to reality that was long a founding principle of European landscape painting.
For Yoon the process of creating each painting is like a dialogue between her and the image. Ideas and inspirations are formulated as she works – spontaneously and consciously without planning. She spends much time searching and thinking until she comes up with an idea of what the image requires. Her work is typified by a physically painterly expression in which the oil paint is applied in thick layers onto to canvas, gradually layered, painted over, or blurred. Traces of change remain visible and become a part of the image, which thus absorbs layers of paint, time, and the painting process thanks to forceful gestures and precision.
The year 2012 is an important one, for it is when Yoon created a series of paintings titled Landscapes of the Soul and Mind. These works represent an important step in her artistic evolution and perfectly capture the character and mood of her painting style. Although they are generally smaller or medium-sized works, they radiate a monumentality and sense of determination that transcend her earlier pieces. Worth mentioning here are several works titled Kumgang (2020) – exceptionally masterful compositions on canvases measuring nearly three by four meters. Over time, Yoon has worked with increasingly larger formats and has also focused more on mural painting.
It is a great honor that the České Budějovice House of Art can present the Czech premiere of Jongsuk Yoon’s remarkable work, characterized by a strong emotionality, poetic lightness, and painterly persuasiveness. October Sky is a small-scale selection of her recent work, complemented by works on paper created especially for this occasion. They are images of an ethereal presence in which the mental and real landscapes consistently and inseparably overlap.
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  • Silvia Cuzynova
  • Courtesy: Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture / House of Art České Budějovice, Budweis
  • © Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture / House of Art České Budějovice, Budweis

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