Collector's Room : Cabinets of wonder 

22. May - 22. June 2018

UNC Gallery Seoul 

Text by Heechae Moon

Collector’s Room: C abinets of Wonder– How Jina Park Develops the Collector’s Room on Canvas

The ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ that gained popularity in the early modern Europe shaped the early form of art museum by collecting rare items of outside civilization. It was the darling of the collector’s taste and understanding of the outside world and the aggregation of the marvelous outside world that one wishes to possess and of the desire that one wishes to show.<Collector’s Room> by Jina Park is a world that the individual artist longs to depict and grasp. It also approaches the essence of the painting media, through the exhibition, which is the process of revealing.

Pictorial Representation and Impulse to Play

The collected images of the artist derive from the times of her life in Germany which was much infused with unfamiliarity, isolation and confusion. She explains that she started painting on her canvases objects and creatures she wanted to possess. She searches through all the visual Medias available today to create an image collection of her own and then reproduces them onto the canvas surfaces in a much slow-paced manner. This reproduction medium of her choice, she thinks, technically beams these objects of desire into her ‘Collector’s Room’.

The pictorial representation of objects on canvas surfaces is more than just reproduction of the objects for creating visual illusions. According to Gombrich, a certain psychological tendency or attitude first arises in the mind of artists during the process of pictorial reproduction. In this view, painting can be seen as an expression of human instinct to mimic one’s surroundings, and thus artists, out of all people, are the ones with more prominent desire to follow this particular instinct. Jina Park pursues her instinctive impulse to play her role as an artist through the pictorial reproduction.

Process of Complete Possession through Slow Painting

Pigments in the modern days are the outcome of constant and age-long attempts to improve towards shorter drying time and thicker, more expressive textures. This allows artists today to depict objects quickly while focusing on the object rather than the process itself. Jina Park does not take advantage of this conventional application. Park majored in Korean painting, particularly traditional color painting. The processes of preparing the paint by mixing pigments which are fine mineral powders, and applying layers after layers of these meticulously crafted colors help her works distinguish themselves from paintings created rather quickly with direct paint application techniques. As she found getting the traditional Korean color painting materials in Germany noticeably challenging, she has adopted egg tempera, which is a medium that is just as ancient, time-consuming and painstaking as the traditional Korean color painting, if the artist intends to put down layers of detailed images. This process of layer accumulation of pigments induces the artist to indulge fully in a wholehearted manner; she is allowed to completely possess the objects while satisfying the desire to reproduce.


Distortion of Perspective - Challenges to Western Perspective and Reinterpreting the Embodiment of Oriental Space

Inside the paintings of <Collector’s Room>, there are subtle spaces beneath the areas filled with objects. The perspective reveals itself in a much clearer manner through the fairly simple composition of the space. However, once a spectator observes with close inspection, it becomes visible that the space has been distorted at a very subtle and obscure level: the space does not fit perfectly in the sense of geometry as though the lines are drawn clumsily and it does not conform to the desire of Western perspectives which stresses heavily on creating illusions of three-dimensional space on the two-dimensional surface relying on a single vanishing point with a frame. Try and take a close look at traditional oriental perspectives. Amongst the sea of various interpretations and multiple terminologies, one particular tendency remains much the same throughout the history; the mixed-up dimensions and distances taking places within the same frame. Rather than attempting to capture a specific point of view towards the single vanishing point, oriental paintings incorporate multiple vanishing points. This of course involves temporal distance. Inclusion of both near-by areas and distant areas simultaneously within the same frame adds four-dimensional concept of time to the three-dimensional illusion as the viewpoint proceeds from one area to another. While Park’s works look at a glance as though they embody the Western perspective, the viewers, however, may experience the sudden appearance of the spatial expression which emphasizes pictorial flatness or the moment where the three-dimensional illusion is broken by subtly dislocated lines. This particular style of special perception is one of the defining qualities the artist has acquired after years of oriental painting studies. This style of expression could also be found in the traditional Korean painting titled, ‘Chaekgado (Scholar's Accoutrements).’ New spatial expressions appear in ‘Chaekgado’ and ‘Munbangdo (Painting of Stationery and Utensil)’ which were oriental reconstruction of the ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ from modern Europe. They are the three-dimensional expressions of the objects based on the spatial embodiment in oriental paintings and the embodiment of temporarily through the shift of viewpoint, rather than a mere failure in reproducing unfamiliar Western perspective. The story of private possession and time drawn in oriental tradition in Germany - This is Park’s Collector’s Room.


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