TEEM Artist of the Day- Jenny Kim



Oftentimes I describe that marks can be intentional, but not necessarily purposeful. I feel the same way with most art. Through endless questioning, I wish to achieve a state of silence in my paintings; my paintings are things that are of nothing. By nothing, I do not mean an absolute absence but an utter paralysis where there is no movement but only contradiction and mutual-cancellation.

In the very first line of John Cage’s Silence he says that, “there is no such thing as silence.” Cage denies the idea of absolute absence of sound and instead believes that silence is also a sound. In this sense, my definition of “nothingness” seems to be compatible to his notion of “silence.” I believe that the awkwardness ensued by perfect harmony or emotional/visual satisfaction—or even the lack of words to describe an emotion—can be as provoking yet simultaneously stultifying as silence.

In short, I prefer the marks on my canvas to be neither symbolic nor literal. I want my paintings to be accepted as “things” rather than manifestation of political discourse or philosophy; and by “things” I am not defining my paintings as objects, instead referring to the general use of the term that describes ambiguous beings. My paintings are simply experimentations driven by my desire to create visual justification of nothingness. My abstractions, therefore, become increasingly indexical rather than definitive. The marks are mere representation of mark-ness or the mark itself being a mark.

In light of this, I have a major interest in challenging the intrinsic and traditional definition of marks, surfaces, and ultimately paintings. I often question what qualifies these systems and by what standard they are assessed. As a result, I adopt methods in my process that blur the edges of what traditionally defines a mark and a surface. For instance, I enjoy creating marks that are made of marks. In the end, are these collective “things” marks or surfaces? Are they big marks that are made of small shapes, or small planes that are made of individual marks? Many of my paintings, thus, are surfaces and simultaneously marks that consist of various molecules where system and hierarchy are inapplicable. It is when these representations of marks create a field of tense immobility when silence or nothingness is finally achieved.