Jinny Yu

Art About Art - The Poetry of the Conceptual

Works Bio
Jinny Yu: art about art - the poetry of coneptual art
art about art - the poetry of coneptual art

In her “art about art”, Jinny Yu spreads the poetry of the conceptual  before us. Here we find, as in a textbook, many of those aspects that artists and theoreticians have always occupied. In doing so, Jinny Yu works with remarkably small resources: Essentially, the works consist of aluminum, mirrors and oil paint, in some cases supplemented by polyester foils. The color is reduced to a – though lively – gray-beige. Aspects to which the artist devotes include:

• 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.
• Illusion: The creation of illusion is one of the central issues of painting; a symbol for this is Jinny Yu’s use of the mirror. In view of the multiple reflections of the non-painting painting mounted on the corner, we hardly know at which level of reflection we are, where exactly the corner picture of Malevich quoted here actually lies.
• Expressive vs. constructive: 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.

Pictorial space, image carrier, color

• 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 works made of thin, free-floating polyester foil support and “image” unite in one object.
• Color: In the reduction to gray, beige and black lies – as its opposite – the abundance of all rainbow colors, both in the imagination as well as in reality, because the reflective surfaces of the support mirror our colorful environment.

Exhibition at Art Mûr, Berlin, 2018

Among Jinny Yu’s central points of reference are – besides Malevich – 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 métier. The most recent works continue the approach of “art about art” and the poetry of the conceptual and explore the connection between pictorial abbreviations and their interpretation. Make two strokes a walking figure, where are they mowing, what is their goal? What story do we associate with a curtain that wafts far out of the window? And to which interpretations do titles lead us? We do not need answers to these questions, it is enough that we ask them.


In her recent works, Jinny Yu deals with the eminent theme of migration. She is personally affected by it, as her family moved from South Korea to Canada. The powerful starting point of this subject matter was the installation Don’t They Ever Stop Migrating? in the Oratorio di San Ludovico in Venice in 2015. A central issue of migration is the question: How does the emigrant fit into the conditions of the new environment?

An apt symbol for this is the series Why Does Its Lock Fit My Key?: the slightly tilted square picture panels struggle, as it were, to bring their internal markings into line with the external conditions. What is more decisive, one might ask, the structure of the “emigrant” painting or the demands – the clear markings of the horizontal and vertical – of the new environment?

Please view the artist’s paintings in our exhibition Figures & Faces, Part 1. More information you will find on Jinny Yu’s homepage and in a documentation on her most recent show in Montreal, Canada, Art Mûr. And please visit her Venice installation on the theme of migration, Don’t they ever stop migrating? Her artist book HÔTE is dedicated to this issue as well.




1976Born 1976 in Seoul, South Korea
1998Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting and Drawing), Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
2002Master of Fine Arts (Visual Arts), York University, Toronto, Canada 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

2018Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
2016Independent Residency: Canada Council for the Arts, Berlin, Germany
2012Seoul Museum of Art Nanji Art Studios, Seoul
2010-11International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Brooklyn, New York
2010Pan! Peinture, Painting symposium, Québec, Canada Confederation Centre of the Arts Gallery, Charlottetown, Canada
2005Bei Gao Artist Residency, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing
2004Kunststiftung Starke, Berlin
1999Thematic Residency Landscape, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada
For a complete c.v. please see Jinny’s website.