This set of space and time we inhabit is likely not just a unified and consistent set of space and time. Space and time we feel and experience in real life consist of heterogeneity in terms of both space and time, to the extent we may consider them ironic. In this regard, Foucault’s spatial concept of heterotopias, in which different spatialities which cannot coexist are complexly intertwined and overlapped, or heterochronias, in which non-simultaneous temporalities are mixed into simultaneous temporalities, provide us many implications for explaining these strange and complex spatialities and temporalities of our era. At the same time, it appears it will be of some assistance in explaining the artistic realm of the Chinese artist, You Jin, whom Alternative Space Loop has invited for this exhibit. It is because the artist, too practices unique painterly qualities by implying such different temporal, spatial qualities in single compositions, and we seek to view the artist’s artistic realm by establishing this as the concept of an alternative view of space and time, or a heterotopos, in which the here and now overlap with the other. It is because actual, sensorial reality, like those; and this space and time, as such, operate on us in a multifaceted fashion through a different spatial and temporal nature, i.e., a heterotopos; as such.
In the artist’s paintings, landscapes of many different times and spaces are overlapped on single compositions. Different parts of time and spaces are mixed together. Such landscapes of complicated space and time require attention particularly because they contain landscapes of Asia, which had to travel a path divergent from Western-centric modernization, a path of rapid growth and condensed development, in their entirety. Unlike their Western counterparts, whose modernization consisted of systemic and self-conforming growth; Asian, Eastern regions like China and Korea had to repeat Western-style development in a short amount of time, and had to overlap a certain innately Eastern culture on this; thus having to weave a unique social, cultural landscape heterogeneously combining different spaces and parts of time. The modern and contemporary have intersected one another in an exquisite fashion to compile an alternative culture of space and time. In this regard, the East had to experience a third path, called non/extra modern and contemporary eras distinguished from both those of the West and traditional Eastern significances. In the artist, You Jin’s art, too such complicated landscapes of space and time, which China had to face and personally experience amidst rapid development and growth, take their place in their entirety. In this regard, the artist’s paintings represent sensuous sympathies regarding real life, which the artist had to experience himself, and work fully revealing a richly sensible situation.
In particular, changes in space and time as presented before the artist’s eyes may have been even greater since the artist has personally experienced situations of multi or mixed cultures, which the East was unable to avoid despite its own deeply-rooted cultural traditions; and the dynamic changes of Chinese society, which has recently achieved rapid social and cultural development. For this reason, the West’s modern and differential characteristics coexist with the East’s traditional and convergent elements. Different spatial and temporal qualities of the East and West are coexisting in single compositions. Self-confidence acquired through a gradual progression from cultural exclusiveness to openness is likely to have played a role in this as well. It demonstrates the characteristics of China’s younger generation, which modernizes even Western-style culture on their own terms rather than to stop at simply accepting what is of the West. Although it assumes what belongs to the West’s oil painting tradition, You’s work contains a certain will to create the artist’s own thoughts and sensibilities, a preference for the younger generation’s characteristic styles, and respect for traditional Chinese culture, as opposed to just a vague association and admiration for the West. One can confirm these aspects, the artist’s intentions to create his own painting style through his own sensibilities, in You Jin’s art.
What Alternative Space Loop, which has been introducing new Asian artists while working to help them network, is interested in, too is this very point. It is the latent Eastern and Asian value to be found in the artist’s work, consistent with You Jin’s position as a young contemporary artist of China, and the artist’s potential for future growth with which to transcend the setting of an East/West dichotomy. This is because, in this regard, You Jin is not just an artist creating an experimental painting trend in contemporary China; but is also one of special thought and sentiments, based on which the artist creates works through which to illuminate both directly and indirectly the rapidly changing flow of Chinese society; and an artist who is expanding the possibilities of contemporary painting through crossovers with various areas, including digital media, fashion and design. The artist’s such features possess a unique significance in allowing us to rethink the meaning of painterly qualities in contemporary art.
Governing the Mind
The artist’s painting style is non-sedentary, as if to progress forward while drawing a trajectory, and appears as if passing by seemingly slowly but quickly. As if repeating the advent of China’s excited contemporary painting history in his own works, the artist increases his compositions’ density and strength by beginning from everyday scenery or objects to gradually expand the spatial qualities of his paintings while involving temporal qualities through an alternative linear method. You Jin’s paintings, consisting of the artist’s characteristic detailed and sculptural lines and splendid chromatic sensibility, could be popular for their sensuous completeness; but the artist takes things further than such through finishing touches which add a certain degree of privacy and complexity to his paintings. It is likely that the spatial and temporal qualities the artist achieves in the compositions are increasing in depth, and in this exhibit at Alternative Space Loop, too one can peek into the artist’s such recent flow. Overall, spatial and temporal qualities are complexly entangled together in the artist’s compositions; and lines and planes, lines and colors, and curves and straight lines operate the composition with their own, regular principles. For instance, if the basic structures and compositions are expressed with straight lines, then curved lines may be used to contain the artist’s sensibilities and expressions regarding those. In terms of the composition of the greater canvas, the artist applies color first and then paints in shapes and boundaries; choosing a generally subtractive method, as opposed to an additive one, while moving from meditation on colors to meditation on lines. In particular, the artist claims he uses colors to contain symbolism and meaning, and he controls even such symbolism and meaning, too through a process of linear tuning, i.e. the artist’s own thoughts. It appears we should pay attention to how the artist values certain thoughts, feelings and expressions of his in his final judgements, rather than operating his picture planes through a certain compatible structure and composition. Even the artist’s complex compositions are ultimately only a certain result, and not something elaborately calculated and structured in advance. It is because the nature of divergent visual space and time may be, as such, a matter of sensibilities arising from different experiences of real space and time, as opposed to a certain, structurally complex concept. The nature of visual space and time we face, experience and feel in reality is likely an accumulation of collisions and impressions of immeasurably expansive sensibilities which have not been restored as single, even entities. In this regard, despite the complex and elaborate picture plane compositions, and despite the complex structures of the lines and planes present across the compositions; You Jin’s paintings more closely resemble Eastern expressions, which are like a flow of the heart, than Western ones. The artist, too, as if in response to this, states that the complicated are actually easier while emptying and organizing are important. Perhaps therefore, You Jin’s paintings generally consist of an entanglement of complex spatial and temporal qualities, in which figural aspects are pronounced; but are partially finished with almost abstract condensation and omissions. The figural and abstract fully coexist in the same picture planes. It is because, as in the artist’s own words, it is perhaps more important to leave in place important objects of visible space and time, in other words organizing them with the heart, than to collect all kinds of those objects in the paintings. In this regard, it appears understanding the artist’s work as governing the heart is required. Eastern thought runs through the base of You Jin’s art, which otherwise reveals an extremely Western painting style. For this reason, You Jin values peace and stability of the mind and nerves when painting. He ultimately views even the spatial and temporal qualities of such a multifaceted spectacle through the mental eyes of his heart. Actually, perhaps no spatial and temporal qualities are as mobile and heterogeneous as the gazes and sensibilities of our inner thoughts. This is as even reality’s dynamic spatial and temporal qualities, too change their multifaceted appearances according to one’s will. Perhaps for this reason, You Jin’s paintings generally employ much bright, primary colors while often contrasting complimentary colors like in traditional Chinese painting. They possess a chromatic sensibility of neither very light nor dark shades and tones. Such color sensibilities also connect back to the artist’s thoughts on today’s realities and, in how You expresses a certain symbolism and meanings through his colors, the artist appears to certainly harbor a critical view of reality, to an extent, but not entirely; and seems to have treated the world with a general optimism toward life. Although we can read You’s such state of mind through the artist’s chromatic sensibility as expressed in his canvases, it appears the artist’s multifaceted thoughts regarding the world, too are being delivered to the viewer through this chromatic sensibility, which is elaborate and more.
From Alternative Visible Space and Time to Freedom
Because China’s rapidly changing politics, economy and life concerned the artist, You’s paintings wholly contain the processes of the East and West, and traditional and modern societies and cultures, contradicting one another and colliding. The dimension of mutually different temporal and spatial qualities has been a natural result of China’s process of modernization, which the artist had to experience, as such. Therefore, You’s paintings should be accepted in terms greater than just their complex and elaborate painting techniques and styles, and their dynamic compositions. One’s life in today’s flowing social changes is fully contained in You’s works. For this reason, objects containing such cultural differences between the East and West often appear in You’s paintings. Examples of them include animals such as tigers, pandas and Mickey Mouse. Particularly, the countlessly overlapping and continuing rows of Chinese-style windows and doors often appearing in You’s paintings trigger a profound effect. It is because windows and doors are entrances and exits to and from different worlds, and media connecting those separate worlds. However, the artist proceeds further. These innumerable doors dynamically run across space while sometimes creating a whirl as if disintegrated, in the form of there often being a stairway or chair somewhere in such complicated compositions. While using them to imply China’s dynamic social changes repeating deconstruction and construction, perhaps the artist has established windows, doors, chairs and stairs as certain coordinates allowing one to know his or her spatial and temporal position within such disorderly changes of the world. In a similar context, languidly relaxing figures appear in these complicated sets of space and time. Perhaps the multifaceted changes of the world surrounding the figures were sometimes overwhelming. One thus faces the world’s spatial and temporal changes, while continuing and repeating moving and staying, openness and being closed. Visually, You’s paintings certainly contain unpredictable changes of space and time. However, what ultimately runs through his paintings appears headed toward a certain, stable order of seeking to view even a chaotic and disorderly world with a serene mind; and not any external chaos of space and time. Like Chaosmos, it tries to hold even a certain mental state of the artist, of seeking to calmly view heterogeneous and complex spatial and temporal qualities while running through them, and not just stay at those qualities. Therefore, the alternative qualities of visible space and time in You’s art again change into still and moving qualities of visible space and time. What runs across these still and moving qualities of space and time is perhaps something like the artist’s certain will, orientation or freedom regarding the world. The freedom You has tried to comprehend while observing innumerable changes in Chinese society to date, and while endeavoring to capture the qualities of visible space and time of those dramatic changes without fearing his own change, that is. The artist thus asks himself which qualities of visible space and time he belongs to while seeking to maintain his own balance in the middle of a rapidly changing Chinese society. These questions could hardly apply to You alone. That is because we, too will likely have the opportunity to reflect on the visible space and time we occupy when looking at You Jin’s paintings. In this regard, You Jin’s paintings perhaps reveal more than just the multifaceted qualities of visible space and time surrounding us. They perhaps also reveal our own dynamic changes, which will become transformed according to those flowing changes in the nature of visible space and time. This dimension of self-disciplinary qualities again combines the artist’s paintings with Eastern thought and sentiments. This is so since, rather than simply repeating just reality’s deconstruction and construction, the artist allows us to feel the energies of stillness and movement, and creation; and to encourage another change, which will be as free; while seeking to view our multifaceted world through a re-pacified mind even within such repetition and changes. You Jin’s paintings thus appear to be constantly trying to engage us in visual conversation, whereas we will free ourselves while wrinkling and unfolding reality’s space and time. (Min Byung-jic, Cooperative Director, Alternative Space Loop)
요진(由金, You Jin)은 1979년 중국 랴오닝(遼寧) 성의 성도인 선양에서 태어나 중국의 4대 미술대학으로 평가 받고 있는 루쉰 예술학교(Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts.를 졸업하고, 현재 베이징에 거주하면서 작업 활동을 하고 있다. 주요 개인전으로 2008년 뉴 에이지 갤러리의 ‘Chaotic Code(북경)’, 2009년 EGG 갤러리의 ‘Continue Chaotic’, 2011년 오페라 갤러리(제네바, 스위스) 의 ‘Lost in Desire’, 2013년 같은 공간에서 ‘From Chaos to Freedom(제나바, 스위스) 등이 있으며, 상하이 모스크바, 대만, 베를린, 플로리다, 마이애미, 런던, 싱가포르, 자카르타, 서울, 홍콩 등 전 세계를 무대로 다양한 공간에서의 단체전에 참여하면서 활발한 작업 세계를 펼치고 있다.
You Jin(由金) was born in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province, in 1979; graduated from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, widely considered to be one of China’s top four art colleges; and currently lives and works in Beijing. His major solo exhibitions include “Chaotic Code” at New Age Gallery in 2008, “Continue Chaotic” at EGG Gallery (Beijing), “Lost in Desire” at Opera Gallery (Geneva) in 2009, and “From Chaos to Freedom” at Opera Gallery in 2013; and the artist’s active practice spans groups exhibitions in various spaces on the global stage, in Shanghai, Moscow, Taiwan, Berlin, Florida, London, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul and Hong Kong, etc
Min Byung Jic, Alternative space LOOP Director