Meme Painting Series
Her latest work group, the Meme Paintings comprises 11 paintings, ranging from 20 x 30cm in size to 165 x 125 cm, all using mixed media on canvas. In the series, started in 2020, Jiyeon Kim’s work evolves from “selfie” to “story,” from private to public figures, from using candid imagery to overly familiar ones, as she moves beyond her earlier relatively straight frontal portraiture to visualize new and more complex ideas about the ways in which we interact with the internet, and the fleeting narratives it creates within our own minds.
Part of her larger ongoing Fake News Project, Kim’s Meme Paintings take inspiration from the flood of images and news articles that we are faced with every day. The collage-style paintings combine disparate elements: painted fragments that are combined loosely with parts that have been printed and pasted to the canvas. Kim first extensively designs these works by organizing the elements digitally in Photoshop, arranging and rearranging them until they achieve a visual balance. The use of collage allows a more surrealist style, absent in previous work. But keeping in-line with City of Singles, the use of realistic internet visuals ground her artwork, creating an impression of familiarity for the viewer. In addition, the images are soft and subtle, rendered in washed-out, muted tones, a look that may allude to the rapid fading of the lurid imagery of mass media once stored in our memory. The painting’s floating figures are orbited by hyper realistic depictions of often brand-name objects, that reference the Pop-art tradition, calling to mind the work of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, among others. The incorporation of skewed abstracted geometric background motifs further contributes to an overall impression of transience and ethereality from these images.
All of these elements work together to create an insidious effect on the viewer, who knows too well the pop-culture images presented in Kim’s paintings. Kim uses this initial comfort to infiltrate the viewer’s perception, much like the visual flood of images we see every day does.
The paintings are a visual representation of the fragmented pieces of photos and articles that remain in Kim’s mind after browsing the internet, blended with her own memories and thoughts to create a composition that contains both elements of truth and fiction. Though viewers might be tempted to imagine relationships between the disparate elements depicted in Kim’s paintings, they have no real relationship outside of their shared existence in Kim’s memory, their randomness is intentional. Through the filter of our own minds, which are presented with endless information every day, stories become distorted and altered in this way. Kim’s work seeks to visually represent this distortion, in which information and narratives merge into a muddled, fuzzy state of consciousness, questioning how does the sheer amount of images and information we consume in our daily lives affects us long after we’ve seen them? What of the images that we see over and over again? What does it do to our sense of reality and the function of memory itself?
In the Meme Paintings, the digital stream is halted for a moment, its floating, frozen state inviting contemplation instead of distraction. We are left to reflect on the process of being flooded itself, and the mental flotsam left in our consciousness after the digital flood recedes.
extracted from SomoS Art House