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Jin Meyerson: “Don’t Lose Track of Why You Started”

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Jin Meyerson: “Don’t Lose Track of Why You Started”
All images courtesy of the artist

Looking at Jin Meyerson’s work from a distance, words ‘complex’, ‘psychedelic’, and ‘warped’ come to mind. Get a little closer and you begin to comprehend the sheer talent, discipline and patience one may only slowly acquire through a life of upheavals. Working primarily with oil on canvas, Meyerson constantly works on multiple pieces at once, with larger canvases (and by large we’re talking some 3m x 4.5m) taking about 3 to 6 months before completion. Meyerson’s creations command tremendous attention - like an Asian contemporary, abstract, beautiful yet disorientating Monet that requires several takes before you adjust in its presence, rather than it adjusting in yours.

I first met Jin in Singapore in 2010. Me, 17 years of age, going through the awkward phases of life and Jin, somehow finding a way to be even more awkward in comparison as he hobbled along on crutches. Yet, much like his works, he was loud, energetic, and effortlessly commanded the room. It was there that I began to find out snippets of his life story that grew to a whole over the years. All at once I appreciated his works, but growing into my academic education allowed me to appreciate the deep conceptual theories that reside within them. Now when I see his works, Deleuze & Guattari’s ‘schizophrenia’ comes to mind, rather than the presupposed beauty of abstraction (which has been irrefutable from the get-go).

Meyerson was born in Incheon City in Korea in 1972 and was soon adopted into a Jewish-Swedish family, living in rural Minnesota thereafter. He moved to New York City in the late 90's and soon had his first solo show with LFL Gallery. He moved to Paris in 2006, where he lived and worked for the next four years until he was invited by the National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea to attend their prestigious residency in Changdong, Seoul. He’s exhibited internationally, in both group and solo shows with renowned galleries such as Arario Gallery, Seoul, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris and Hong Kong. His works can be found in public and private collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Saatchi Collection, London, and the Speyer Family Collection.

 

CONTINENTS BETWEEN US, 2018, 150cm x 196cm
Oil on canvas


We spoke to Meyerson about his upcoming solo show with Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong entitled ‘Before the Beginning and After the End’, what motivates him in his career, and the biggest lesson he’s learnt as an artist:


First of all, congratulations on your upcoming show with Pearl Lam Galleries! Your works have had incredible success with auction houses such as Christie’s, in addition to having exhibited internationally. Could you tell us a little about how this show will be different to previous ones?

It's an honour to be showing with the legendary dealer and gallerist Pearl Lam. I’ve been a fan of her programming for a long time and the entire gallery team has been an absolute pleasure to work with. Initially, I was approached by her director Miki Wick Kim who has followed my work for years back to its origins from the late 90’s in NYC where it all began for me. Because I’ve moved around a lot, it's pretty rare to find someone who’s life and vision of art has been as expansive and runs parallel to mine, so I was thrilled to re-connect with her and get to collaborate with PLG.

This show ‘Before the Beginning and After the End’ is in essence about this accumulation of perception and about these universal narratives that have persisted throughout the years and locations where I’ve lived and worked. All of us deal with so much image and information input it can be disorienting and exhausting to distinguish any sense of meaning or quality. Our abilities to digest and process simultaneous multiple images and meanings have now evolved to where we can view several distinctive sources without losing sight of the conceptual whole.

Practically speaking there are going to be 10-12 pieces that span the last decade of my work, which will be brought together and presented like a greatest hits / misses album within a single narrative which occupies the space before the beginning and after the end.

THE EVOLUTION OF PERCEPTION, 2018, 100cm x 178cm
Oil on canvas 

For those who might not know you, tell us a little about your background – have you always known you’d be an artist?

I truly believe that real artists start to make work out of a need to find something out about themselves and the world they live in.

When I was born in Korean in the early 70’s, obviously, the world was a very different place. I lived in an orphanage for the first 5 years of my life and immigrated to the states through adoption. I was raised in the American midwest in a Jewish – Swedish family and I attended art school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (BFA) and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (MFA). As I mentioned I’ve moved around a lot. After starting my career in NYC, I moved to Paris in 2006 where I lived and worked for 4 years, and then I was invited by the National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea to do a residency. Since then I’ve lived in various cities and countries around Asia, primarily in Seoul and Hong Kong.

I truly believe that real artists start to make work out of a need to find something out about themselves and the world they live in. My early experience with displacement defined my life’s choice to become an artist, I was also extremely fortunate to have grown up with the late, renowned American Pop artist, James Rosenquist and his social circle. So to answer your question simply, Yes, I was made to be an artist.

 

What would you say is the biggest artistic motivation behind your oeuvre? What drives you to create these large-scale abstract works you’re most renowned for?

I have always viewed art as the finest invention of humanity, it’s only usefulness, is to provide a source of enlightenment and inspiration.

This is going to sound a bit grandiose, but from an early age, and because my father was a history professor, I have always viewed art as the finest invention of humanity, it’s only usefulness, is to provide a source of enlightenment and inspiration. I have always wanted to be part of this conversation and to add to the history of Art in a significant way.

The creation of my large scale semi-abstract pieces is drawn from my heritage of perception. Having grown up admiring artists like Richter, and Rosenquist, big pictures were always in my head. I wanted to find a way to bridge and break thru the established schools of abstract and representational art. Additionally my early and continued personal experiences with exile and displacement imprinted this positioning of my artistic vision and intentions.

 

BROADACRE, 2013-14, 188cm x 410cm
Oil on canvas 

These works are no doubt complex, both visually and contextually. Could you give us a little insight into your techniques with regards to painting? What are some characteristics of your process that might be different from other artists?  

I have always loved the entire history of painting and continue to be an avid student of looking. To that degree, my process, which is still evolving, has always incorporated as much of the knowledge I have acquired and continue to search for. One of the main reasons I have moved so much is to continue to have a sense of discovery. Getting to live and work in Europe was substantial. As an artist getting to physically stand in front of, and experience the work in history books, is absolutely irreplaceable. Because there are so many layers to my process, when I am able to view work that inspires and informs me in the real, I do a forensic visual inspection and take these memories back to the studio. Much like musicians sample from other compositions, I do something very similar. Creating layers of depth and discovery for myself and hopefully the viewer.

Recently, most of the work created by established artists seems to be much more focused on variation within their established brands or creating some sort of perfected technique to establish brand recognition. For me, it is essential to have moments of discovery and question what I am doing in core ways so that I do not paint myself into a corner

 

Is there a particular work of yours that you feel most attached to? If so, why?

For this show, I am extremely excited by the new completely abstract pieces I’m doing. I started as an abstract artist when I first entered art school then switched to figurative painting and now I have arrived at something which is the culmination of my personal evolution.

There are a few small paintings in the show which I initially thought of residual leftovers as they are physically created with some of the remnants of the larger semi-abstract pieces I’m more known for. I use a lot of material to create the layers of my large-scale pieces and what I’ve done is actually use the spent tape and oil paint which is used in that process. But I am also very very excited about the new larger scale pieces and the also the opportunity to present some of the older work.

Sorry, it’s kind of like having to choose your favourite child!

INCHEON, 2018, 90cm x 60cm
Oil on canvas 

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt during your career as an artist?

Most people don’t know this but a few years back, I pulled a Jay-Z. I was fortunate to have started my career in my late 20’s and after close to 2 decades in “the game” I was burned out and I had worked myself into that corner where I felt I was just repeating myself. It was a pretty horrible feeling so I dropped the mic and really thought I would just walk away from making art. In fact, for almost 2 years I didn’t pick up a brush and I shut down my studio becoming artistically homeless.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the years its this: Don’t Lose Track of Why You Started

 

Jin Meyerson's solo show at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong, ‘Before the Beginning and After the End’, will be on show from 23 November to 29 December 2018.
For more information, click here


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.



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