Bimyeoung and Quarantine Life

Finally getting back in the studio to continue work on This Is The End (Jaws paintings) and begin studies for a totally new body of work that I’ll document as it unfolds.

This is one of the unfinished mid-size pieces from Fascination Street that didn’t make it into the show, tentatively (and brazenly, I suppose) titled “Bimyeoung”, which is Korean for “The Scream”. It may be finished someday, it may not, but I plan to let it breath for a while before making that decision. The imagery is based on a photo of product lined shelves at Kyobo Book Centre, the largest bookstore chain in South Korea. The scene really encapsulated a feeling of overstimulation that much of Seoul evoked for me, and I was attempting to find beauty in the disorienting display of consumerism here. It’s interesting to think that I didn’t even question it’s place in the show up until the end, when I felt it was still unresolved and had to devote time to pulling together the rest of the show instead (which I don’t regret).

In hindsight, it’s the most extreme example of an important shift I feel took place in my painting process throughout this series – a somewhat reckless and authentic transferral of energy on to the surface that favored quick, aggressive paint application in place of the more carefully measured approach I found was slowly sucking the joy out of painting for me. I find the real excitement here is not so much in the new direction itself, but in the reinforcement of the idea that it’s possible to paint yourself into the grave and never stop gathering a new understanding of what art is and what it can do for you – how it can help you connect with others on a primal level by providing a totally new mode of expression you didn’t previously think was possible. Most artists, I think, feel genuine pain and frustration by not being able to share their inner worlds with people. I spent a half of a decade after graduation working terrible jobs and drinking excessively, jotting down ideas for paintings on Post-It’s that I knew would probably never be realized because I’d be drinking instead of painting every night for the foreseeable future (I’ve never been a great multitasker). This latest series felt like projectile vomiting years of confusing, unnameable emotional imagery and ideas onto 15 painting surfaces. In 10 years of painting, this is the first time I truly felt such a cathartic release.

A sudden absence of daily distractions and trivial concerns in the face of a serious threat to us all inevitably leads one to reflection (to this, as to COVID-19, few are immune). The surreal circumstances we now find ourselves in that are keeping us all indoors throughout most of the day, which is only slightly unusual for me, is making me appreciate even more so the (secular) spiritual liberation that painting can lend me when I’m feeling trapped. I hope it’s doing the same for fellow artists in Boston and everywhere else.

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