Whitehot Magazine

Jinny Yu: that the problem is not a problem for me is a part of the problem at art Mur, Berlin

From left to right,  24”x 60”, oil on aluminum, 2017

Jinny Yu: that the problem is not a problem for me is a part of the problem
at Art Mur, Berlin


A poem, written by the artist, is the basis of Jinny Yu’s latest solo exhibition:

                                    from left to right

                                    in a world without memory

                                    there are no other sides in the inside

                                    there are no other sides in the inside

                                    actually, there are many

                                    banal conformity

                                    in a world without memory

                                    enough is not enough

Each line is rendered in cursive script on the wall beneath the art work, serving as a title and an evocation. In terms of medium and technique, the works in this exhibition largely continue Yu’s earlier exploration of aluminum as a painterly material. Black oil paint is smoothed across the surface of these metallic slabs of varying sizes, evincing a wooden tactility that simultaneously maintains a liquid effervescence; in a word, a fragility that betrays the intimidating hardness of their surface substance.

In terms of width the largest (or longest) piece in the exhibition, from left to right (all works 2017) leaves the top fifth of the aluminum empty, denoting the white-gray of a sodden sky. Engraved via Q-tip into the swath of black oil paint in the bulk of the canvas, armless stick fingers make their way across this stark nocturnal landscape. Is it a coincidence, an accident that these figures resemble the Chinese character for “person” ()? The bareness, the nakedness of their rendering will be a recurrent motif in the exhibition, notably in the smaller work banal conformity, in which the entire plane threatens to be overcome by a stampeding mass of these gestural creatures.

Though clearly positioned in the language of abstraction, Yu’s spaces nonetheless evoke, at times, landscapes; at others, interior spaces. The most prominent example of the latter here is what the artist has described as a “corner” piece, there are no other sides in the inside, a silver triangle whose point (corner) culminates in two rhomboid shapes, the walls. Here we have an abstraction with figurative effects rooted solely in a skillful and convincing interplay between light and shadow – after all, no color is used at all, leaving the artist to work merely with dilution and the underlying sheen of the surface to elicit her effects.

Elsewhere, the near total monochrome confronts us as the anti-mirror, the eater of dreams, as in the two works both titled there are no other sides in the inside. As the next line, countering that negation: actually, there are many, which presents us with the first and only representational work in the entire exhibition, a wash of curtains being sucked out of the open window of a house by a gust of wind.

Perhaps the most stunning act on display is the painter’s foray or extension into the realm of the three-dimensional, into sculpture. Another of the repeated lines in the poem is in a world without memory. Positioned across from one another in the gallery, the aluminum painting is a black monochrome with two circular “eyes” imprinted in the upper center of the rectangle; across, on the other wall, two round aluminum tubes extend out into the gallery space. At eye-level. Memory, it seems, is tied directly to vision. Memory: a thing that’s absent from the world. A thing that stabs you in the eye, that retains our vision, that also detaches itself from vision. Nebulous spectrology.

The ghosts, really, are everywhere on display, in these haunted scapes of darkness, shadows, inferences of human figures. The final line/work in the show is the most disruptive, visually, as it breaks from the material basis (aluminum) that the rest of the show has been built on – shatters it all, metaphysically – in the assertion of a new substance: glass. Windowing a gray-blue background, a small crowd of those two-stroke “people” have gathered. Enough is not enough, declares the wall text. 

And it is true: in a world increasingly devoid of memory, so ready to forget the history that has forged it, there can never be any such thing as “enough”; the world is built on lack, on the maintenance of the illusion of forgetting. Ultimately, Jinny Yu reminds us of the supremacy of the contemplative force; these objects that stare back remind us of a cycle that we are all very much engulfed in, a cycle that cannot be for long sustained. WM

View right wall: installation shot, right wall as you enter

Installation shot, close up of the right wall

 Installation shot, close up of the far right wall corner

installation shot, left wall

There are no other sides in the inside, oil on aluminum, 60” x 58”, 2018

Actually, there are many, oil on aluminum, 36”x48”, 2017

In a world without memory,  oil on aluminum, 14”x19”, 2017

Enough is not enough, 24”x 24”, oil on glass, 2017

In a world without memory, 1” x 3.5”x 6”, aluminum, 2018

There are no other sides in the inside, oil on aluminum, 24”x24”, 2018


Travis Jeppesen

Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio. 

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