Collector's Room: Cabinets of Wonder @UNC Gallery
Jina PARK
Cabinets of Curiosities are spaces of ancient Europe that have regained their popularity in recent years. It was a wondrous internal world designed to show off a collector's taste, education, and understanding of the outside world; a space that represents the interests and fascinations of the owner. More importantly, it contains objects that the owner wants to grasp and understand. In this sense, these spaces are similar to the essence of painting. In her paintings, Jina Park displays images that she derived during her life in Germany. Many of the images hold a sense of unfamiliarity, isolation and confusion. It was the artist’s way of processing this new information and collecting these objects and creatures in her personal Cabnet of Curiosity.

Park majored in Korean painting. The process of preparing the paint requires fine, pigmented powders and the application of layers of meticulously crafted colors. Additionally, she has adopted egg tempera technique in her artwork, an ancient medium that is time-consuming and painstaking.

There are subtle spaces beneath Park's paintings. A very simple construction of space reveals the basic perspective, but if you look closely, it's a subtly twisted space. Space does not fit perfectly geometrically. It is inconsistent with the Western perspective's desire to portray a three-dimensional illusion of space on a two-dimensional screen based on a single point. Let's take a look at the classic Oriental perspective. Instead of trying to capture a specific point towards a single single point, several points come together. Drawing close and far at the same time adds a four-dimensional concept of time in addition to a three-dimensional illusion as the time points move through the surface. Although Park's work may seem to have implemented Western perspective at first glance, she suddenly appears to have a spatial expression emphasizing the pictorial flatness, or experiences a moment when a three-dimensional illusion breaks with subtle lines.

ARTIST STATEMENT

"Despite the accumulated, skeptical discourse the position of painting in the Contemporary Art has somehow avoided its own end. Through change of time and the overflow of media, painting keeps questioning the purpose of its own existence and, countless painters thrive with their own methods and thus structuralize their justification. And I am also willing to explore the conventional term and notion of pictorial representation.

The conventional purpose of painting is to create a visual illusion that induces spectators to witness three-dimensional elements on two-dimensional surface. In other words, the subject replicates spectators’ visual experience. In his book, Art & Illusion, Ernst H. Gombrich explores creation processes of this pictorial representation from a psychological perspective. According to him, a certain style sets up “a certain landscape of expectation, a psychological tendency or attitude in the artist’s mind,” and an artist will tend to look for “certain aspects in the scene around him that he can render. Painting is an activity and the artist will therefore tend to see what he paints rather than paint what he sees." Gombrich argues to deny that artists, especially when it comes to painters representing nature, begin with impression as an initiating input. He believes the idea that the artist "begins not with his visual impression but with his idea or concept" and that the artist adjusts this idea to fit, as well as it can, the object, landscape, or person before him or her. Gombrich calls this theory "making and matching." Representation therefore does not mean replication.

Within this frame of argument, spaces and elements that appear in my paintings can be interpreted as follows. Imprinted traces of all the visible matters can be further expanded, under the dominance of time and space, up to the point they transform into memories and ultimately, to their inevitable dissolution. Gradually, Memories dissolute by erasing elements in space one by one. While the space turns into a complete emptiness, lost of all the objects, the space itself remains indelible. Such spaces produce mimicked, altered and modified objects to replenish and to erase completely over and over. Repeated boredom faced with indistinguishable day-to-day life, which was already added onto the deleted memory, creates images that trigger déjà-vu. And this phenomenon turns distinguishing reality from virtuality a challenge.

The final still image from repetition of ennui, under careful control of color and movement, becomes imprinted in one’s memory and then reproduced within a frame. One thing is certain. These are reappearance of images which either once existed or never has." -JINA PARK

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