I first heard of Jim when I was a 3rd year student at Emily Carr University in 2003. He was one of the graduating students that year and was known for his large scale landscape paintings. Along with his studio mate, Jesse Garbe, who painted like Rembrandt re-incarnate, they somehow got a duo show in Diane Farris Gallery right before graduation, which created quite a buzz in the industry and among their peers.

10 years later…

I somehow got him to agree to have a solo exhibition in The Upper Room. Contrary to his usual large scale landscape paintings, Jim has specifically painted a series of 12″x12″ portrait-themed paintings, aiming to cater to the space and the atmosphere of The Upper Room. Jim has told me the core concept behind these paintings beforehand, so I didn’t have the luxury of approaching them without a preconceived interpretation. Interestingly, the narrative in these paintings still seemed open-ended to me. The uniform size and the arrangement of the paintings suggest these are of the same series, yet a coherent theme or subject matter seems to be absent. The reason for the choice of images appears random and even sporadic. The images themselves appear to be cropped intentionally yet awkwardly within a 12″x12” constraint. Both the format and the content of the paintings render a strange familiarity: they remind me of the images usually displayed in social media. Uniform squares of images were arranged neatly on the “wall” yet they appear to be without a coherent theme. In reality the selection of these images is not completely random but is filtered by particular trends (#), geographical locations (@) or fellow users (@). Each image contains its own private narrative; however, when these images are made public they are taken out of their private context and the narrative becomes open for interpretation. Jim’s paintings both in format and content evoked a similar viewing experience; they almost compelled me to “like” and “comment”. These paintings will be shown in The Upper Room from September 24th to October 26th, 2013There will be an opening reception on Saturday, September 21st from 1pm to 3 pm. Jim will be at The Upper Room to chat about his works. Please visit jimpark.ca to see Jim’s other paintings and exhibition news.

Here is a brief interview with Jim:

Can you tell us something about your background? I grew up in a small city in South Korea called Pohang, and I moved to Canada when I was 13. My dad was a metallurgical engineer, and my mom was a piano teacher. I feel I was pretty fortunate from the beginning. For starters, my parents were incredibly supportive of my decision to become an artist early on. When I was attending high school in Abbotsford, I really liked the idea of becoming an artist, and art was always the class I enjoyed the most. I liked the drawing assignments, and I liked making things out of raw materials, but still I wondered if I was good enough to become a painter. When I went to Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, I found myself in a world of painting and painters, and it was then that I realized this is the kind of world I wanted to be in. I’d rather do that than animation, graphic design, or media art.

Which artists inspired you the most?
Paintings by Paterson Ewen, David Milne and Francis Bacon made a big impression on me. I am also inspired by the work of contemporary artists who are still alive, such as the works of Luc Tuymans, Peter Doig and Eric Fischl.

How do you choose your subjects?
I am inspired by many things I see in daily life. More specifically, what intrigues me the most is exploring the impact of light (natural or man-made) on a form, a figure or a pattern.

Can you describe your working process?
Around every month or two, I would have a look over two or three batches of work I’ve been doing, and these might be sketch works, like sketchbooks of drawings or photos.  Out of this bunch I would then select two or three images which I feel are strong enough to be made into paintings. My main goal is to create works that are translations from the original experience of an occasion, a moment, or a meeting, and then turn them into another set of experiences involving the activity of painting. I try to re-construct a set of equivalent colours and shapes, and I would labour endlessly on reworking paints until I feel certain that they are exactly what I wanted to achieve visually. As a painting evolves, I feel that it’s necessary to make the marks I use more and more resonant or expressive of the feeling that I started out with.


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