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Line and Smoke

JANG Jaemin

Hakgojae Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Line and Smoke , a solo exhibition by the young and leading Korean painter, JANG Jaemin (b. 1984). This exhibition follows his first solo exhibition at Hakgojae Gallery in 2020, Owl’s Forest. The artist presents a new series of acrylic gouache works created throughout 2023. The artist, by incorporating concepts of epistemology into landscape and still life painting, raises new questions about the deeply rooted historical origins of these two genres.

장재민 JANG Jaemin, 깊은 웅덩이 끝 Edge of a Deep Puddle, 2023, 캔버스에 아크릴릭 구아슈 Acrylic gouache on canvas, 200 x 150cm (2), 200 x 300cm (total)

Those who are familiar with computer games likely know StarCraft. Initially, the scene is covered, and as the player progresses through out the game, it gradually reveals itself. Only when the game is completed does the entire map become visible. Our perception works similarly . Everyone finds unfamiliar places not immediately comfortable. When we visit new locations, foreign cities, or countries, they seem unfamiliar. When looking at a place for the first time, a perfect image does not immediately come to mind. It’s only through the accumulation of time and the repetition of experiences that we truly understand the essence of a place. The same applies to objects. When you look at a vast field, the characteristics of each bamboo plant are not immediately clear. It’s only by regularly coming to the field, facing the bamboo, touching and observing it, that the features of the bamboo field begin to reveal themselves. In Western philosophy, reaching a true understanding of an object’s state is considered obtaining genuine knowledge about the object, while in East Asian scholarship, it is expressed as “investigating things” (格物) to reach knowledge (致知).

In the West, the goal was to accurately reproduce the objective forms of landscapes or objects on the canvas. In Eastern painting, the representation of the objective forms of objects was considered mundane , and the pursuit of the vitality of energy was deemed the true essence of high level painting. In practice, Western landscape and still life painting, merely applied the laws of mathematics and optical tools to painting. Describing a new landscape or object with mathematical tools does not necessarily make the perception complete. On the other hand, grasping the Eastern concept of vital energy is even more elusive. However, it is believed that the pursuit of vital energy becomes apparent only after drawing thousands of times and elevating the level of experience and perception about the object.

JANG Jaemin takes a new approach to landscape and still life painting. He does not follow the Western practice of treating the subjects he wants to paint in a scientific (objective) manner, nor does he place value on reaching the elusive and challenging realm of vital energy. The artist portrays the pure, initial state of encountering landscapes and facing objects, where everything is not fully understood and remains in an ambiguous state. This state reflects a pure state of consciousness. The artist does not adhere to the knowledge of painting or remain confined by the precedents of art history; instead, he seeks a state of transcendence. He aims to reconsider all truths of both the East and the West and return to the very beginning. In this process, the landscapes or objects t he artist intends to paint seem to disappear like smoke, floating in the air on the canvas. Naming this phenomenon as a disappearing brushstroke, the artist titled Line and Smoke . JANG Jaemin’s artistic world constructs a new realm not seen before, heralding a new direction in the Korean art scene. Particularly, the works exhibited in this show, such as A Tree , Night in a Distance , Bird s Territory , A Hill , Waterfall , and A Bird on the Black Mountain , represent a type of painting and craftsmanship not commonly seen in recent Korean art, garnering heightened expectations. While European Impressionist focused heavily on impressions, the old masters of Eastern painting place d excessive emphasis on life experience. JANG’s painting approach results in a natural and refreshing style, capturing the unfolding of his consciousness. Despite apparent similarities, the content takes divergent paths.

Hakgojae Gallery
50, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul