This œuvre is based on a remarkably small number of means, it primarily consists of aluminium, glass, mirrors and black oil paint (in the most recent works supplemented by polyester foil). Yet the topic Jinny Yu is concerned with could hardly be any larger: it is painting as such. All the “problems”, the themes and questions artists and theorists have been dealing with, are presented by her like in a text book, with cool intellectualism and – we dare to say: ironic – commitment at the same time. We are content with naming but a few:

• Reflection of the world: Already the support, consisting of mirrors and aluminium, addresses this basic theme of traditional painting. In addition the aluminium with its slightly blurring effect raises the question as to how definite a painterly reflection can be.
• Pictorial space: By means of her reflecting supports Jinny Yu answers one of the central issues of Western painting since the Renaissance. What could create a more perfect illusionary space than a mirror?
• Image carrier: With a mirror Jinny Yu in a way dissolves the traditional support, it is visible and invisible at the same time. In her most recent works made of thin, free floating polyester foil support and “image” unite in one object.
• Creation of illusion: In front of the manyfold mirrorings of Non-Painting Painting, installed in a corner, we hardly know at which level of reflection we stand. And where exactly we could and should locate the corner painting by Malevitch that is quoted here.
• Paint: The reduction of the palette to black comprises – as its contrast – all the colors of the rainbow: through the thin layer of black paint on the mirror we perceive our colorful environment.
• Abstraction vs. narration: Jinny Yu resolves this tenacious conflict by telling stories with abstract means, e.g. about the act of painting, how to conquer a wall, how to deal with larger-than-life role models etc.
• Expressivism vs. constructivism: Jinny Yu solves this old conflict in painting (once the battle between colore and disegno) by deliberately designing her brush work: she keeps the balance between expressive subjectivity and perfect control.

Jinny Yu’s work, oscillating between painting, sculpture and relief, dissolves the traditional categories; and the artist turns to the genres: thus the Studiowork # 37 can be seen as an ironic citation of one the the most beloved types of painting, the still life. And not to forget: the wall, an eternal theme as well, stretching from support (for the wall painting or fresco) to the place to hang a painting to the inclusion in the work of art, as it happens when a plate of glass leans against the wall and a painted frame surrounds this (Painting=Subject+Boundary): immediately the entire wall – and thus the complete environment – is part of the work.

Among Jinny Yu’s central points of reference are – besides Malevitch – the painters of the New York School, particularly Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt with their quest for the “ultimate painting”, the black endpoint of their metier. Jinny, however, uses this concept as a starting point for a new, further stage of painting. The “heroic” Jackson Pollock – epitome of the macho artist – is quoted by the video Number 37 with – rather filigree, “female” – paint splatterings; at the same time this work is a reference to Picasso whose genius one once tried to capture by filming him through a glass plate while he was painting on this pane.

With this quote of the quest for the brilliant artist Jinny addresses a topic that still is the foundation not only of painting, but of all art: the theme of the artist-genius. Her answer: Art is, above all, thinking, is knowledge and information – and thinking. And doing. And not to forget the necessary splash of wit, irony and fun.


1976 Born 1976 in Seoul, South Korea
1998 Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting and Drawing), Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
2002 Master of Fine Arts (Visual Arts), York University, Toronto, Kanada Master of Business Administration, Schulich School of Business, Toronto
  Jinny Yu is based in Canada and Italy, with occasional visits to Berlin. She is Associate Professor of Painting at the University of Ottawa.

exhibitions, awards

Jinny Yu’s work has been shown widely, including exhibitions at Nuova Icona, Oratorio di San Ludovico, Venice, the ISCP Gallery, Brooklyn, Pulse New York and Miami Beach, Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, Venice, Kunst Doc Art Gallery, Seoul, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Kyoto, Conduit Street Gallery, Sotheby’s, London, Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Taehwa Eco Art Festival, Ulsan City, Republic of Korea, Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown, and McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton.

She was awarded Laura Ciruls Painting Award from Ontario Arts Foundation in 2012, the Mid-Career Artist Award by Ottawa Arts Council in 2013 and was a finalist for the Pulse Prize New York 2011. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and le Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec.

Artist’s residencies

2012 Seoul Museum of Art Nanji Art Studios, Seoul
2010-11 International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Brooklyn, New York 
2010 Pan! Peinture, Painting symposium, Québec, Kanada Confederation Centre of the Arts Gallery, Charlottetown, Canada
2005 Bei Gao Artist Residency, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing
2004 Kunststiftung Starke, Berlin
1999 Thematic Residency Landscape, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada
  For a complete c.v. please see Jinny’s website.