There is a basic tension between the masculine and the feminine, a power dynamic that InJung Oh struggles with in her work. Presenting her art in specific series, Oh works with similar ideas and images in many of her paintings. The ideas are methodically kneaded until they reveal what originally may have been a subconscious personal trigger. Because the themes are so personal, though, they are often rather universal. Oh references corsets, skirts, volcanoes, tension, breath, monsters, sex, and sexuality in colorful, active paintings.
Oh’s paintings are often a fresh breeze of logic and simplicity in concept. They are not overthought or overwrought. There is an obvious conflict with ideas in the simple repetition of the work. Oh works through these issues, both personal and societal, by reusing and re-twisting her imagery to try new logic to solve the problems she sees. Much of what she paints she doesn’t exactly plan out. Oh says she “sees” the image before she paints it, but she doesn’t always fully understand why she feels compelled to confront certain imagery over and over
On the canvases stacked around her studio, it is easy to see Oh’s preoccupation with the simple image of the “V”. This shape is almost constant in what she paints. The references of that shape, both inverted and in its usual orientation are elemental and universal ways to indicate the masculine and the feminine. In this way a lot of her work is innately sexual, sometimes despite her wishes. The erupting volcano, the vessel of the corset – they have obvious associations. The real beauty of Oh’s work, though, is in her obvious sincerity in wanting to find a resolution. Because Oh’s paintings are very intuitive, both work and artist are open and waiting for interpretation and words to really describe what is being shown.
InJung Oh is a Korean-American artist and graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2009, where she received a Master’s of Fine Arts. Her works have been shown in Chicago’s Zhou B Art Center where Oh is currently an artist in residence, as well as in numerous national and international collections. In 2012, Oh’s work was displayed at Chicago’s 33 Contemporary Gallery as a solo exhibition titled King and I. The name of the series is derived from an ancient Korean tale of royal tragedy. According to legend, three thousand concubines of a recently deposed king took their lives by throwing themselves off a cliff. The story still stands today as a powerful symbol for the issues of gender, identity, and conflict. In her works, Oh represents the king’s wives and, abstractly, femininity through the imagery of billowing skirts and the human body as flower petals and stamens. This inherently tragic story is countered by the symbolism of flower blossoms as life renewing, of subsequent generations of women, of life in perpetuity.
As a female artist of dual identities, East and West, Oh naturally identifies with the complexity of societal and hierarchical issues and uses symbolism to expound on her own experiences in intercultural society, such issues forming a focal point and building block for creativity and inspiration. Earlier artists such as Georgia Totto O’Keeffe, who focused on the symbolism of flowers and the female form, or Judy Chicago with her criticism of patriarchal culture from the female perspective, had unique takes on art and expression, and though Oh’s work draws some comparisons, her restraint from the overly provocative is more suggestive of social relations and gender interpretation. Where O’Keeffe used flowers to imply the female form and sexuality, Oh has moved the symbolism toward transformation and a discussion of social and cultural identity. In Oh’s previous series, Pannier, ^ , and V series, we see in Oh’s works a variety of objects symbolize the female form. Combined with natural scenery as a performance stage where emotional states such as anger, apathy, and melancholy were expressed, she uses her art work as a resistance to various social prejudices and restrictions.
InJung Oh’s first Volossom series was exhibited at Bluerider ART gallery. It was a continuation of the artists series King and I, where flower, petals and stamen as symbolism for life and the existence, continuation, mortality, and rejuvenation of the subject. “Volossom”, which is a term created by Oh, means “Blossom as a manifestation of wish and will.” The flowers now form a symbol of positivity against adversity, of perseverance. Oh suggests the importance of the human spirit as an uncompromising reality, offering a unique artistic point and worldview.
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