Joon-Hee Park | If things were perfect
In ‘If things were perfect’ Joon-Hee Park delves deep into the bittersweet vagaries of adulthood. The idyllic candy-coloured playground of previous paintings recede into the distance as Park revisits dreams, memories and events which allow her to right a wrong, or present a brave, more adventurous self. For Park the act of painting is therapy, and on a canvas anything is possible.
The setting for these works is the 11th floor apartment in Seoul where she lived with her family. The act of literally bringing the work indoors grounds the work in realism, while her sometimes isolated positioning in the canvas suggests a more reflective, introspective Park.
In Come with Me, the artist lies daydreaming in front of the television while her friends play in the background. She, symbolised by the stubborn donkey, is being coerced to come outside where the apartment buildings have been replaced by her idiosyncratic dreamland. Further indoors, in Sickbay, Joon-Hee apologises to the pet hermit crab given to her by her father and fatally injured by a friend. There is an element of fun here however, as another crab in the background is destined to eternally play scissors in ‘Paper, Scissors, Rock’ due to his pincers.
1993 Space Odyssey depicts a recurring dream Joon-Hee had of her family and friends being tightly, but safely, trapped in a Bell Jar floating in space. Also floating or precariously climbing, the mood changes in Spikey Journey and Into the Wild, both of which symbolise her desire to escape into her imagination. Looking more closely you will see the strings attached to her puffer fish are beginning to slip, and there is uncertainty if the strange animals surrounding her are friends or foes.
There is poignancy in Gong-gi, where Joon-Hee balances fragile glasses on her head while playing knucklebones. The metaphor is clear, but it is her facial expression that communicates more accurately the pain, regret and resolution that affirms how we carry our childhood with us as we negotiate our way through our adult lives.
Born in 1979 in Korea, Joon Hee Park emigrated to New Zealand in 1993. She completed a BFA and an MFA at Elam, graduating in 2003. Park’s work won the Merit Award at the 2005 Waiheke Art Awards and she was a finalist in the 2006 National Portrait Award.
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