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Seeing harmony in divine contradictionGrace Hyunyung Jung’s exhibition at Artspace.C explores her own perspectives on change
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승인 2015.11.11  15:11:33
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▲ Grace Hyunyung Jung sees beauty in nature's contrasts. Photo by Olivier Duong

Before what the artist calls her Jeju era, the art of Grace Hyunyung Jung filled the canvas and left little empty space.

Fast forward a few years and it is clear the landscape of the island has influenced her. Her work is now more open and full of the empty space it lacked before.

▲ Photo by Olivier Duong

Indeed, she finds something special in Jeju's landscape: symbiotic nature. She contrasts it with the environment she found in the US which, no matter how nice, she just didn’t find approachable.

Island nature, on the other hand, feels much closer to her; even though it can sometimes threaten her, it retains an intimacy she can relate to.

Explaining the process by which she creates her work, Grace says she starts with a realistic drawing "as my eyes see it." They might look like scribbles from afar, but draw near and they become powerful expressive landscapes with crashing waves.

Then she starts abstracting the scene, drawing by drawing, until she feels she has successfully isolated "the essence of the scene." What is then left is pure Jeju.

▲ Photo by Olivier Duong

The process is not an easy one. For example, it was only after a chance meeting that she found the perfect color for her “earth” piece. Persimmon is what gives her canvas its earthy tone.

But that still does not explain why her work is fragmented. She says it is because she finds contrasts everywhere.

Nature is filled with extremes, from massive hurricanes to peaceful sunsets. Things that seem opposites at first end up as symbiotic extremes within a balanced ecosystem. Grace also finds such symbiosis in Jeju, man, and nature: at odds and at one.

But Grace wants her work to reflect her inner self, too, so this symbiosis is also her personal story.

"It comes from my deep Christian faith," she says, where one can find many contrasts: God, the eternal and mighty, and man, the finite and lowly, far apart yet intimate.

The artist also represents themes of rebirth in her work, such as the dead tree that will be new again by next spring. For the devout, this represents not only the cycles of nature, but also an echo of the more glorious rebirth to come, the resurrection.

▲ Photo by Olivier Duong

Grace's work is thus multilayered and multifaceted, while still being approachable from a visual standpoint.

It is colorful, yet muted. Rough but soft. Square earth canvas on the left, organic sea canvas on the right. It is the definition of symbiosis, something she finds in the landscape of Jeju and deep within her heart.

While she is a fine artist, Grace also focuses on community projects like making a mosaic of small tiles painted by locals in Hwabuk-dong, Jeju City.

She loved the work since it engaged the community, the sense of art developing because it was made with the hands of the community.

▲ Photo by Olivier Duong

On a broader scale, she feels the outlook for Jeju art is bright, particularly judging by the speed with which new art movements are embraced.

Even if the murals the community created will never be considered fine art, they are still important work, and reflecting her will to bring contrasts together — fine art and popular art.

But, truth be told, she is also a fine example of her art. In discussion with her, it was evident that this peaceful-looking woman has a spirit within that roars like a lion. A walking contrast. Symbiosis indeed.

Dwelling of Life: the earth and sea of Jeju
Grace Hyunyung Jung
7th Solo Exhibition
12-6pm, Nov 5 to 21
Artspace.C, 3 Floor, 69 Jungang-ro, Jeju-si

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