A Good Painting

— Sangyeop Rhii (independent curator)

— Translation: Habin Yang


12 - 27 November 2021
ThisWeekendRoom, Seoul

What is a “good painting” to place? When we refer to a painting that is good to be placed, we often think of how it suits specific sites and mingles well with the surroundings. However, we hardly think about “something (object)” could be nicely put on paintings, since we are obsessed with “somewhere (place)” that the painting can be located. Cupboard, a solo exhibition by Jiyoung Yoo features “good paintings that some ‘things’ can be placed”. As the title Cupboard offers a glimpse, “a painting good to place something” is not a metaphor. Actual ‘things’ are on Yoo’s works.

The third solo exhibition by Yoo, Cupboard, is an attempt to compare and look at the composition system observed in a residence, our home, which consists of our everyday lives with the other one that comprises paintings and their surroundings. Yoo overlaps two functions of "using" and "looking" with a shape and a logic that was brought from cabinets used at home for storing, organizing, and arranging. By doing so, the serial composition of paintings, “image-support-exhibition space”, becomes corresponding to the "object-shelf-residential space" triad. Yoo deems that just like we take out items that we need from shelves and use them at home, the audience (users) take out items (images) from shelves (paintings) and use them. In Cupboard, Yoo presents works that further visualize this logic. The artist overlaid flat supports (canvas or wood) with paints. Along with that, she attached shelves and handles on supports, made cabinets, and put objects that cast from real things around the work. In addition, her works in context imply some specific places such as a kitchen, and a bathroom in a residential place and convey day-and-night lifestyle patterns at home in a metaphorical way.

Her intention to look into a role, value in use, and the arrangement system in paintings with the borrowed system and elements that comprise our home already reaches further and beyond what she originally aimed for while visualizing the logic by putting objects on the paintings and adding shelves to them and so forth. That is because her paintings literally, not metaphorically, had become a shelf that can be actually used in real life. When a metaphor turns into reality, it invokes a new network of relations, accordingly. As a word, “cupboard” conveys two presences of a cup and a board in a single word, the exhibition titled Cupboard is intertwined within the dual purposes of usage, dimensions, logic, and worlds. When multiple opposite terms exist such as function-decoration; utilization-appreciation; two dimensions-three dimensions; paintings-objects and residential space-exhibition space to name a few, the combination of these terms could create much more numerous cases. For example, if audiences find a painting they love in Cupboard, would they bring it home, and frame and hang it on a wall? Or would they use it as if the shelf attached in the painting is the other identical one already in their house? Would the object that was made after a real object be placed along with the actual ones? Or would objects without functions lose their foothold and be replaced with usable objects?

If you feel that this exhibition, along with thousands of questions come to your mind, only adds confusion in appreciating paintings, let’s find an answer to the question in the following sentence: In a communication system, for example, the system aims not simply at maintaining equilibrium or homeostasis, but rather it is always necessary to find something new to say if the system is to continue to exist. Consider, for example, a conversation. Were the participants in the conversation to simply keep repeating themselves, the conversation would cease. It's necessary to find something new to say for the conversation, as a system, to continue its existence.1 Yoo brings “good paintings to place” as something new to say that can connect the painting system and continuously creates stories.

Levi R. Bryant, The Democracy of Objects (Open Humanities Press, 2011), 143.