Yang Yoo Yun

Yang Yoo Yun’s exhibition “Face” rather humbly sets out to capture fear as it manifests in economies of light and dark: those moments when angst clouds everything around us, when tears cause our vision to blur, when danger feels like overexposure, a kind of violent brightening. Refusing the soothing effects of full motifs, the artist revels instead in crushed distances and claustrophobic close-ups. Occasionally, she draws her subjects from cinema history, as in Dogear, 2022, a painting of a printout of a still from the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs in which Jodie Foster’s distinctive mien seems to encapsulate the very essence of apprehension. In tableaux that are sometimes naturalistic, sometimes intensely staged or even fantastically imagined, Yun makes of these elements—fear, brightness, darkness—a premise for testing the possibilities of her chosen medium, diluted acrylic on primed Jangi, a type of Korean paper made from multiple layers of mulberry bark, which is known for its intense durability and absorptive capacity. To describe her achievements on this material as chiaroscuro would be to miss their distinctiveness; she evokes shadows as a kind of subtle scaling, like enameling left too long in the blazing sun. Yun’s understanding and mastery of her painterly surface lends an unmistakable sense of permanence to the fleetingness of her motifs and allows us, the audience, to linger on something that is often too subtle, too dreamlike, to really be represented.

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