7 Jul 2022 — 6 Aug 2022

 Hyunsun Jeon's page
Hyunsun Jeon
Meet Me in the Middle

Painter Jeon Hyunsun casts a question of whether or not the other can be wholly understood. The question is cast at herself, where she stands. If the other cannot be wholly understood, then it may be advisable to accept certain realities and keep a sensible distance to the other. A distance that is not severance or summary dismissal, but a meet-halfway arrangement where there is compromise between the self and the other. Jeon's latest solo exhibition 《Meet Me in the Middle》 explores that middle-ground compromise where two heterogenic objects meet. The meeting occurs in a physical space where neither party is burdened excessively. However, Jeon envisioned more than just an equilateral relative distance between two parties. She imagined a point of compromise, of standing in the shoes of the other, of having perspective, even imagining the other's situation and physical condition. She imagined that with as much specificity as she could muster, and in the process recognized such an absolute transposition was impossible. The middle in the realistic, functional sense was a step back from the ideal.

Her painted images are an understanding of the external other, and what occurs beyond the self. The artist pursues a median-ness of paintings. Her previous works were of multiple layers of painted colors with solid forms and robustly iterated lines, but her brushwork was motivated by improvised forms and bold swaths of color this solo exhibition. It was the dessin sketches that allowed her this freedom. If the blank canvas was the foundation and the substrate of paint the roof, dessin sketches were the scaffolding. The ambiguous and equivocal in-between state is a place of coarser brushstrokes, negative spaces, improvisational forms, and dynamic ambiance. Working with scaffolding freed her brush of rigid uniformity, solid compositions, or a stable - static - atmosphere. It just so happens that the in-between place is where the artist and her drawn forms met in the middle through mutual compromise.

Geometric forms in her paintings are abstractions of her experienced and understood interpersonal relationships, objects, and situations. They inform her work. To her, the geometric forms are like versatile character actors who disappear behind the characters they embody, under even the lightest makeup and twist of inflection. They are not too distinct and not too demanding. These anthropomorphized geometric forms first appeared in Jeon's 2020 solo exhibition, and now they seek an understanding of the other beyond differences, embodying and embracing the impossibility of wholly understanding. They find suitable compromises between the two. Like actors, the geometric forms and their presented situations tell a rich narrative for her paintings.

The drawing is divided into four chapters. The first chapter Two Objects is of two objects representing multifarious relationships. It is a presentation of how they seek to integrate and reach equilibrium with one another. The second chapter Window describes the minimal non-reducible distance between the self and the other. Jeon states, "the other is like a scene viewed through a window." The other might seem close, but they occupy a separate space and place. What you perceive through the window is in fact framed in such a way that the whole is not available. The third chapter Mirror shows octagonal forms as mirrors trying to reflect the other as-is. The problem is that reflections are not full and square reflections of the whole being. They can show only a part, in varying ways depending on angle and position. The fourth and final chapter Sculpture presents monument-like statues that signify temporary solutions between two parties. As they are temporary, they lack stability and robustness. The solution, the consensus, is incomplete at best, collapsible at any moment.

of the Window chapter presents two foreground subjects who encounter each other through a circumstance of stepping on a black clothing item on the floor. Two windows are open in the background, frames of how the subjects perceive the other. of the Mirror chapter positions elongated octagonal mirrors in one direction only. The artist is randomly reminded of past gestures and statements by others that she overlooked in the past. Only now realizing her oversight, misunderstanding, or ignorance, she wonders what might have been done had she understood the situation more wholly. Yet that is how time is. She is in the now and that was in the past. The geometric forms face a river that cannot be forded. It is not the river that the mirrors show, but the past of the other. was painted between two objects. The situation demands an intermediate agreement, but does the middle-ground painting ever satisfy anyone? The canvas remains unpopulated.

Jeon Hyunsun explains that her recent works started as thoughts of time shared with Arnold, her pet dog. People and dogs do not share a language, so understanding dogs is not always easy. Instead of speech, the best we can do instead is to share plenty of time together in close quarters. Between people and dogs, that middle-ground is time and space shared. Understanding anything beyond the self is nearly impossible, yet the effort and journey of trying to understand, of accepting the differences is what matters. The artist describes this point as what connects with the painting. Paintings don't need to present answers or reach conclusions. Merely casting them out there can be meaningful. Jeon has faith in that.

Where lies that middle ground? Is that the final destination of all interpersonal relationships? Just because the two parties expended comparable time and energy to meet at a certain point doesn't qualify it as middle. One might take nine steps while the other only takes one, but is that not wholly compromise found in the middle? That is not to say that the compromise remains in static position, or in a way that one takes more steps to the other. Such relationships pass quickly. A point between two others who sought mutual and whole understanding but had to compromise somewhere in-between. That in-between may be reason for dolor, but that pause is also a point of beauty. Jeon Hyunsun's paintings speak of a floating-point middle-ground that is neither static nor clearly defined. The middle can always move. That too, is a sad and wondrous thing.
Installation view