Holes on a Closed Canvas
: Colander (2021) by Jiyoung Yoo

— Yeonjin Oh (visual artist)

— Translation: Habin Yang


12 - 27 November 2021
ThisWeekendRoom, Seoul

As both subjects and objects were not clarified in her previous solo exhibition titled Spilled Water1, Jiyoung Yoo’s supports straddle the border between the passive and the active status, and they are used as a factor that can pierce or be pierced. The supports are the basis of the images, and at the same time, it is an image that stands before other images. They reversely cast a shadow on the images that reside within them before they are fixed as a transparent window that represents the world. Grids that Yoo have created are not a simple virtual barometer to measure some status. Rather, they protrude and pierce the images, and then show off their firm and opaque presences while toppling the relations between the figures and the backgrounds. Contents (images) cannot completely pierce the inscrutable grids. Only when some part of the passage is closed a new painterly space that the artist designed opens itself.

Colander (2021), presented at Yoo's third solo exhibition Cupboard (2021, ThisWeekendRoom), can be translated into a "strainer" or a "filter". Then what things are “filtered” through the supports? Unlike her previous works, not many seem to be left after going through the colander. As a bare thin grape stem, withered cherry seeds and stems represent, a white surface that appears to hide all substances is tightly closed as if it is a well-designed cupboard. Maybe that's why Yoo's canvas that consists of closed color fields and the attached handles that look quite functional is contradictory as it always has been. A small gap (which we can look through the egg-shaped engraved holes) physically made with two wooden boards would appear if we opened the surface. However, the invisible horizon the audience can see may not be that narrow. Eggs, cups, seeds, calendars, and manuscript papers that are often chosen by the artist have something in common as the content that is contained in metaphors could move flexibly and grow further. When the thin one span-wide small gap created by overlapping heavy physical layers becomes infinite with semantic imagination, Yoo’s canvas establishes illusions without déjà vu.

Eggs in Calendar (2019) series were displayed in a three-dimensional grid with a structure shown in matryoshka dolls and they are now hanging narrowly in a curved 'threshold' in Colander. This light tautology reads as an abstract of her overall works. Her “colander” looks somewhat like a solid shell which is so dense and compact that nothing could go through. At the same time, it is a little more beautiful just to be served as a container as eggs do. As the audience willingly overlook the fact that the eggs cast with plaster have no actual distinction between inside and outside, Yoo’s supports have the power to close themselves before images by claiming their flawlessness.

One of the strangest factors in Colander may be a small drawer in the fourth panel. In this panel, the little drawer in relief that has a similar depth of a gap suggested in the third panel sticks out. As a frontal view is limited in this spot, a bird’s eye view is solely allowed at this point where the “inside”, with some dried cherry seeds and thin stems, has been utilized. Our eyes moving along with the surface forms and drops down toward the direction of gravity which is a way to sense the depth. The depth formed in her canvas chooses to hang along with the surface, not to pierce into it. This hidden depth that cannot be penetrated from the frontal view remains as a reference which reminds a direction of the supports despite its conventional character.

The artist’s painterly space insists on a physical binary status between the engraved and embossed. At the same time, it has created nuanced imbalances of binary opposition and suggested contents that have never existed. Like unbreakable eggs, the cupboard that we cannot open entails physical limits beyond the boundaries and implies the possibility of an invisible illusion. As her works rely on representational motifs so that they cannot be dismissively classified as abstract, could her works be called as the most intelligent type of trompe l’oeil? – like an empty veil filled with icons cut out in relief.

Jiyoung Yoo’s first solo exhibition: Spilled Water at Rainbow Cube, Seoul (2018)