Baik Art presents Dialogical Self, a solo exhibition by Korean native, contemporary artist, Jinju Lee. Ms. Lee (BFA, MFA; Hongik University) melds tradition with contemporaneous philosophy in her thought-provoking artworks. Professionally trained in Oriental Painting, she employs the boonchae technique, a distinctly Korean painting method where clusters of mineral pigment, previously suspended in water, are crushed and applied to a canvas coated in an adhesive. This East Asian style of painting with its lack of shading shows the true color of things (saek-gal) and plays into Lee’s narrative intent.
The artist draws on negative events and emotions from her past. Her art is not a personal pursuit of catharsis; rather it is the means for discovery, the vehicle through which her experiences become visceral. She captures daily activities in spontaneous sketches and reassembles these sketches into a narrative relaying a story from her past. It is in this dialogue with her memories that Lee’s work becomes most meaningful: she uses her art to challenge her own personal struggles.
The title of Lee’s show at Baik Art, Dialogical Self, touches upon conversations of the artist with herself, with her past and present worlds, and with her audience. It refers to an ideology initiated by Hannah Arendt, who in 1958 said, “If people were not different, they would have nothing to say to each other. And if they were not the same, they would not understand each other,” and incorporated into the Dialogical Self Theory (DST) by Hubert Hermans in the 1990s. It uses the concepts of ‘self’, which wells from within an individual, and ‘dialogue’, how she communicates her ‘self’ to others, to gain a deeper understanding of her experiences through the integration of internal thoughts and feelings with external conventions.
Each of Lee’s paintings is a self-contained microcosm replete with meaningful imagery and emotion. The works are simultaneously peaceful and frantic, commentary on the very real experiences of the artist as she was growing up in South Korea. The muted yet rich colors reflect Lee’s rational meditation upon these events. Yes, they were tragic and distressing, but they also brought clarity. The viewer is invited by the paintings to share in the artist’s discoveries.