KOO Jiyoon: Tongue & Nail

3 August - 25 September 2021 Seoul
Press release

KOO Jiyoon’s (b.1982) new and recent works embody the time that passes in the city, depicting the condensed psychological landscape, which reflects on the ever-changing characteristics of urban chronology. While the artist’s previous body of work synesthetically reveal the subtle psychology of anxiety or emptiness by revealing the bare internal organs of the city laying exposed in limbo amidst construction sites, the 18 new paintings in Tongue & Nail add a reflection of time to the artist’s current vision of the city.


KOO Jiyoon identifies the city and its buildings as biological organisms belonging to the structural concept of time. The artist, who observes and personifies the crumbling old buildings in and around Seoul, realizes the tragic fate of these buildings that will one day remain only as a distant memory, disappearing in the brutal order of the city, maintained by the constant cycle of  destruction and creation. The constant change of emotions, which mirrors the fluctuating characteristics of the city, are at the heart of KOO Jiyoon’s work. The title of the exhibition Tongue & Nail, draws on the contrast between the soft slippery feeling of the tongue and the hard and dry feeling of nails to implicitly reflect the artist’s mental perception of the city. For the artist, these two elements are related to the city—nails constantly grow but are destined to be cut, which make them similar to buildings that are constantly created but eventually destroyed. The tongue—the opposite of these hard and dry things—acts as a symbol of objects that hide their soft and slippery bodies inside the city. Interestingly, to the artist, both symbolize the city’s desires.


The artist captures the city’s desires and memories while reflecting on time and combines them into a psychological landscape where visual elements, such as colors and lines, mingle within the boundaries of the canvas. In particular, the unique and subtle aesthetic of KOO Jiyoon’s artworks arises from the coexistence of contrast between the new and the old, between the brushstrokes that are sharp and rough in places and thick and soft in others, and between the mixture of cloudy and vivid colors. The artist’s analytical approach of comparing the city’s desires with the tongue and fingernails is not only restricted to the thematic aspect but also expanded to the realm of formative gestures and textures in a similar logic, which provides yet another focal point in KOO Jiyoon’s abstract paintings.


KOO Jiyoon has held solo exhibitions at Arario Museum in Space (Seoul, Korea) in 2018 and Sarubia Dabang (Seoul, Korea) in 2016. She has participated in major group exhibitions including Maybe a Wonderful Place at Doosan Gallery (Seoul, Korea) in 2019, All Over at the Hite Collection (Seoul, Korea) and Go Through-and-then at Zaha Museum (Seoul, Korea) in 2018, Ugly as Art at Seoul National University Art Museum (Seoul, Korea) in 2017, Salon of the Day atCommon Center (Seoul, Korea) in 2014, and Subtle Anxiety at Doosan Gallery (New York, USA) in 2010. She was awarded the “Etro Arts Award” in 2014 and the “Young Artist Award” hosted by the Bank of Korea in 2013. KOO’s works are part of many significant collections such as the Arario Museum (Korea), the Bank of Korea (Korea), and the Cummins Station (USA).

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