25 Aug 2021 — 26 Sep 2021
Jin Meyerson

Gallery 2 and Johyun Gallery are pleased to present RETURN, a sequential solo project by Jin Meyerson. Spanning 7 locations and over 2 years, the culmination of this project will be featured at Gallery 2, Seoul; Johyun Gallery’s Dalmaji, and Haeundae spaces, Busan; and an AR element will be shown at Space XX Seoul. Recognized for his contributions in Frontier Optics, Meyerson has been interacting with image sampling and early machine based automated distortion filters via CG, in concert with oil painting since the late 90’s. Centered on 4 new cycles, of Paintings and Drawings, THE IMPOTENCE OF FIRE, GENEALOGY, REPERATION/ RESONANCE, and POST-CALIFORNIA, the exhibitions incorporate Painting, Drawing, Installation, Video, and Augmented Reality. Meyerson’s most ambitious project to date, for the first time, the work gazes inward using an iterative and generative self-sampling that develops and examines the broader scope of human existence and attachment to place-ness by engaging with ideas of heritage, displacement, loss of personal history, and the trajectory of the global pandemic and climate crises.

The point of origin for Meyerson’s RETURN project is the video NO DIRECTION HOME. In response to a news article he became aware of on his first trip back to Korea in 2007-08, after nearly 3 decades of absence. The story of lost North Korean “ghost ships” which wash ashore every season, with living survivors or their remains, onto the Japanese island of Sado located approximately 35km west of Niigata, felt equidistant to his own experience of endured odyssey as a Korean Adoptee. Begun on April 5th 2019, in collaboration with Charles Munka his longtime friend and Artist who had recently moved to Sado, the film was shot on Sado, Seoul, Busan and Minnesota. A poetic post-identity manifesto that premiered at the Seoul Museum of History and was eventually donated to the Seoul Museum of Art bearing the names of the artist’s adopted American parents allowing them to have a place within the subverted history of Korean adoption, this completed the first piece, SEQUENCE 1.

SEQUENCE 2 which was featured in Gallery2’s Joongsun Nongwon space on Jeju, included NO DIRECTION HOME which was accessible via a QR code and overlaid 2 intimately scaled elements, a completely analogue painting of an unknown seascape made on resuscitated North Korean canvas, and a salvaged chair rescued from a North Korean ghost ship that was swaddled in parachutes which are used by Japanese fisherman on Sado. This trinity of ambient, virtual and actual meaning acknowledged the lingering issues of British and Japanese post-colonialism that remain relevant in the region and led to Korean adoption policies. This set the table for the next iterative location a solo presentation at this year’s HKBasel with Johyun Gallery.
It was during this project that an AR element, which revealed another layer of virtual interaction, was introduced.
Within the artists painting practice, is a rigorous process of image sampling and digital sketching. Initially developed to avoid the co-opting choreographies of appropriation, the trademark distortion evident in Meyerson’s work comes from a culmination, of at times, 50 layers of digital distortion effects and analogue scanner interventions. Drawn from the Artist’s recognition of surrealism being the first aesthetic development to allow for comparative contextual meaning and his own profound experience with displacement, having spent his early years in an orphanage in Incheon, at around the age of 5, being transplanted into the American Midwest and thrust into the gravity of its culture.
The source material for Meyerson’s presentation at Gallery2 incorporates a photo he had taken where his own reflection overshadows and blurs an underlying image, after a series of digital and painterly manipulations a bifurcated self-portrait where the artist is simultaneously present and absent is created, SELF IMMOLATER 2020. Sequentially, the self portrait is sampled to create the molecular collision which is FATHER 2020, and this in turn is sampled along with scans of the artist’s own hand and pictures of his wife’s neck and shoulder to create the largest painting in the show, MATRIARCH 2020-21. From here the artist splits off into 2 directions GENEALOGY, (6.0 featured here, 1.0 ? 5.0 are presented in Johyun’s Haeundae space) , all iteratively and generatively sampled directly from MATRIARCH, and finally POST-CALIFORNIA, sampled directly from FATHER and put thru the same sequence of iterative and generative evolutions to create THRESHOLD 2021, and SURVIVOR’S GUILT 2021.

Architecture has played a central role in Meyerson’s work since 2005, a period of departure from NYC where he began his career, and developed further when he arrived in Paris where he would live and work for the next 5 years. In Johyun Gallery’s main Dalmaji space the final pieces in the cycle of what Meyerson refers to as his Architecture of Displacement, (INTERLOPER, 2020, FULL CIRCLE, 2020) are presented. The reincarnated descendants sampled directly from the architectural elements of these final 2 paintings, emerge as THE IMPOTENCE OF FIRE network. Referencing the loss of his own personal familial history, where the GENEALOGY paintings create a renewed lineage, extending an aesthetic DNA of sorts outwards thru the sampling of sampled samples, THE IMPOTENCE OF FIRE paintings reach back into the sketches of earlier virtual and imagistic structures of architectural reference points, inverting and stripping away the color and mass of the detritus which created the packed compositions. Mirroring the artist’s own pilgrimage of process, one that included a trip back to the Star of the Sea orphanage in Incheon, where he was told that the original orphanage had burned down destroying all records and any sense of connection.
Thru conversations with his Father in law, and his own personal research Meyerson discovered that in the small city of Incheon there had once been 20 active orphanages, currently there are only 2. With today’s online and virtual data storage systems the loss of records would be nearly impossible, rendering the use of fire as a means to wipe away causality and consequence, impotent.

Alongside the paintings are drawings made from Korean Hanji and ground powdered charcoal, REPERATIONS/ RESONANCE fill out the Dalmaji space, constituent cousins formed by the residual remnants of the CAD cut stencils used to make the GENEALOGY paintings, the drawings incorporate the heritage of charcoal as a transformed material and the tradition of Korean Hanji.

The interactive AR exhibition presented at the alternative venue Space XX in Seoul, allows the participants to interact with the originating sketch material virtually via a specifically designed App and an Ipad. While the HKbasel version presented digital versions of sections of the paintings, the Space XX update gives the never before seen digital sketching process which has only existed within the intimacy of Meyerson’s own computers, a public appearance and presence. Sections of the IMPOTENCE OF FIRE sketches slowly glide around a central memoried recreation of SEQUENCE 2 connecting the beginning of the RETURN project to the endpoint.
In Meyerson’s own words, “Art has always been a survival kit, acting as a cultural rangefinder, and identitive GPS, allowing me to gauge the distance from where I have been, where I am now, and where I might possibly end up.” With the culmination of his RETURN project the artist redefines the function of his work within the world: not a politics of representation but a praxis of exploration, allowing us all to ride into the rarest of moments, the opportunity to reset and renew.

POST-CALIFORNIA, oil on canvas, 190x199.5cm, 2021