I’ve been a fan of Mi Ju, a young, very gifted painter from South Korea since she was studying in college, in fact I purchased a piece of hers during her second solo show almost three years ago at Fecal Face Gallery in SF, I’m glad I did because they aren’t the easiest things to come by, even as, or perhaps because of her rising star. Mi Ju’s latest solo show marks her fourth overall (her first was in 2006) and first in New York.
Entitled Gaia, referring to the Greek earth mother goddess, the latest collection of paintings is housed at New York’s Freight + Volume Gallery in Chelsea and showcases 10 new paintings, 3 black and white sketches and an instillation that transform her 2-d characters in the tangible 3d works . The artist’s trademark colorful creatures are always a feat for the eyes resembling characters one might associate with a videogame or a Chinese street festival dragon. The artist has said that symbolism is imbedded in dream and fantasy as a means to interpret her upbringing in - and emigration from – a divided country. She connects her past and her present via a blend of traditional Korean motif and mythology along with current political and personal subject matter.
Born in South Korea, her father ran a textile factory and mother was a florist for a Buddhist temple. Massive rolls of fabric were always around her during her childhood, their colorful patterns and diverse textures affecting her visual expression. The intricate natural ornaments and bizarre creatures filling Buddhist temples also fed the artist’s imagination. She writes,
|Mi Ju - "Wind", 2011 Acrylic on canvas & cut out paper 54 x 78 inches|
“Studying in Australia, San Francisco, and New York has given me insight into the various perspectives people have about nature. Native American totem poles, Aboriginal topographical art, and the complexity of psychedelic art all influence my artistic process. I look to scientific theories on the origin of life, emergence patterns, and swarm behavior to introduce more intricacy and narrative into my work.”
|Mi Ju -"Waves", 2012 Mixed media installation|
“I perceive nature as flat, crowded, and infinite. Often times, the world is too large to comprehend, too crowded to find a focus. Countless living organisms are packed layer by layer, interconnected with each other. My compositions develop from the contemplation of opposing concepts: ephemeral and eternal, uncensored and restrained, improvised and strategic. The work often combines both cuteness and violence. By understanding natural elements from micro to macro, fractals to flocks, and ants to people, I reflect mixed perceptions of nature through my work. Nature could be seen as controllable, appealing, and delightful, yet from a different perspective, natural elements can become overwhelming and destructive.”
Of course Mi Ju herself was in attendance and made time to discuss her work with anyone who approached her with much enthusiasm and grace even in the very packed space that was filled with both eager diehard fans and new comers alike.
If you are in the New York area make sure you make it over to the gallery while the show is up for the next month plus and ending on November 3rd.