[ZOOM KOREA] Jeong Daun ditched the paint for pieces of cloth
Fabric drawing may not necessarily be limited to drawing pictures on fabric. Jeong Daun, 35, is an artist who does the opposite — she draws pictures using fabric. With Jeong’s fabric drawings, her hands become the brush, the fabric becomes the paint and her workplace becomes the canvas. The artist has established her own spot in both the local and international art world with her newfound distinctive art form.
Jeong’s work involves various types of fabrics that she pulls, spreads, ties or distorts on frames according to the tension of her choice. That's how Jeong herself came up with the name “fabric drawing,” as she creates pictures using fabric instead of ink, lead or paint.
Jeong majored in Western painting during her university years, and says she was always interested in working with the texture of the paints. This led her to seek ways to express art using something with more texture. She started searching for such materials in her everyday life and eventually stumbled upon work clothes in an art school studio plastered with paint. Jeong instantly knew that she would need to create an art piece using the clothes, and thus began her fabric drawings.
Jeong started out by vaguely gluing clothes onto the canvas, but that led her to question her intentions. She decided to move away from the canvas, as it limited her choices of the many different ways she could use the clothes' texture.
One day, her professor suggested she ditch the paints and try using just clothes. Jeong immediately put the advice into action, wiping every single paint canvas out of her studio. Since then, using only clothes for her art, Jeong says that she has discovered a new sense of spatiality in the real world that she was never able to find on the canvas. She was so fond of the new technique that she has continued to expand the scope of her work; studying the space she can use.
Soon after, however, clothes alone could not suffice for the scale of her ever-expanding works. Jeong visited the Dongdaemun Market in Dongdaemun District, eastern Seoul, where she at first bought some 50 to 60 samples of different types of fabrics. Jeong recalls pulling and twisting every single one of them to get a grasp of their texture. Sometimes she would even repeatedly stack multiple layers onto the canvas frames.
Jeong says she tends to focus on her emotions at the moment and tries to convey them through her works so that they capture her own experiences and thoughts. It doesn’t matter if a specific moment was memorable or not: The instantaneousness is what’s important and what decides the colors of the final work. Jeong says that usually right before she begins working, she has a brief moment of silence for herself to recollect her thoughts and feelings. These serve as inspiration for how she completes her pieces.
In December of 2015, after steadily finishing her fabric paintings one by one, Jeong held her first exhibition at Dongduk Art Gallery in Jongno District, central Seoul. It was the winter before completing graduate school, and her fabric paintings were perceived as a fresh shock to art experts. From then on, Jeong started getting more and more attention from art museums and galleries, becoming a turning point in her life as an artist.
Jeong’s fabric drawings range from flat surfaces to architectural spaces. In 2019, she displayed one of her installation pieces at Museum SAN in Wonju, Gangwon, the building of which was designed by 80-year-old Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. Titled “From Nature: Naturally,” the installation piece reaches 10.8 meters (35.4 feet) high, made by stacking 25 canvas frames on top of each other. Another one of her installations, “Flow Naturally,” was shown at the IFC Seoul in Yeouido, western Seoul, and is considered one of her most famed pieces.
In 2017, she showcased her works in Europe for the first time at the Rijswijk Textile Biennial in the Netherlands. Her works were part of a group exhibition of 24 international artists. Jeong’s fabric paintings were popular among visitors at the time.
Thirty-eight pieces of Jeong’s latest installations of various sizes, which took her over a year to complete, were completed in January this year. The Quanzhou International Finance Center in Quanzhou, China, has these pieces on permanent display in its lobby.
Jeong makes sure that every single layer of fabric in her artworks are handled with utmost sincerity. When she layers them on top of each other, she ceaselessly contemplates on the effects or results on the final piece and incorporates her sentiments into them. She believes that numerous layers exert more power than a single layer, and the same goes for colors. A wide range of colors can harmonize, contrast or eventually come together with meaning. Her fabric drawings are like life, Jeong says.
Jeong says she avoids being lazy, as it is her most important rule in life. Her first thought when she wakes up in the morning is to spend the day like there is no tomorrow. She says that is the main element she considers that determines the high quality of her fabric drawings.
BY PARK SANG-MOON [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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