Bio/ Artist Statement/ Reviews


Jeong Im Yi describes her painting as the intersection of time and space, small histories of passing time and invitations into an emotional experience that is personal yet universal. The results are a translation of past into present and the expression of complex emotions presented in elegant and eloquent simplicity with true technical virtuosity.

Yi has exhibited 9 solo exhibitions in the US, Korea and Japan, including the commemorational solo show for 2012 Korea & Japan World Cup. She exhibits extensively in group exhibitions internationally and nationally. Among her numerous groups exhibitions and exhibition venues are ArtLink@Sotheby’s International Young Art, Chicago, Vienna, Tel-Aviv; "Realism, Really?" , Sonoma Valley Art Museum, Sonoma; Introductions at Paule Anglim Gallery, SF; Asian Art Museum, SF; Seoul Municipal Art Museum; Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul. Yi has received many awards, including the prestigious “Tomorrow’s Artist Award” from the Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul; Diplome D’honneur in the Biennale Des Artistes Haute-Marnais, Chaumont, France; the Bronze Medal from Salon Violet, Paris; Artistic Selection Award from 16th Korean Cultural Center Annual Juried Exhibition, LA and nominated for SECA Award from the SFMOMA. Her work is included in public collections such as Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Heerim Architecture & Planners, Seoul. A selection of her important collectors is Tal Danai, Founder and CEO of Artlink, Inc., Idan Ofer, Chariman of The Israel Corporation, Steven Lopez, owner of ArtZone 461 Gallery, JiEun Kim, journalist and TV personality and Maestro Riccardo Muti among many other private collectors.

JeongIm Yi was born in Seoul in 1971. She received her MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004, prior to obtaining an MFA and BFA from the Painting Department at Hong Ik University, Seoul. Yi lives and works in Chicago.

Artist Statement

My painting is an intersection of time and space: I take the stillness of the objects around us, countered with its always changing appearance. Tracing the realm of revelation beyond words neglected and unexplored, I record the small histories of passing time thus translating the past into the present.

Images lie in silence, isolated from the incessant activity of the surrounding world are valuable not in themselves but rather as signs of other things. Employing photo referential realism technique, my work reveals its center of realities through its vulnerable stillness and presence of anonymous stories.

I do not attempt to replicate the world around us. The histories of my paintings accumulate actions, colors, and textures of paint beneath the quietly finished surface. The brush marks on my work is a point of mindfulness and a record of having been there. My work reassembles the conventional format and invites the viewer on a regressive journey beyond the mundane through the coalescence of space and time.

My work addresses the life of people before me and simultaneously, the personal yet universal emotions of people. The time and images in my work do not elapse in a sequential, linear fashion, rather with repeated accumulation or parallel pauses. These layers combine in a still moment; our momentary mortal gaze as we reckon with eternity.

Selected Reviews

Korea-born painter reflects on time and memory

Virginia Pelley, Special to The Examiner July 23, 2009, San Francisco

At frist glance, Korea-born artist Jeong Im Yi's trompe l'oeil studies of cracked, scarred walls and peeling paint appear to be detached analyses of decay or disrepair.
But take a closer look at her paintings, and you start to see a history unfold.
Whether with expanses of white walls afflicted with bits crumbling at a seam, small stones of compressed sediment or the well-used wooden box lovingly rendered in "Grandfather", Yi captures little details people often overlook, showing a respect for and reflection on the passage of time.
"My painting is a record of one'w life and homage to it". Says Yi, who has her first U.S. solo show, "Reverent Memories", at ArtZone 461 Gallery in San Francisco.
"We need to not take for granted the small, precious moments we have now, and always recall them and the possibilities of additional, perhaps deeper moments," she says. "I hope my painting reminds of us those moments."
The artists, who has exhibited her work in solo and group shows in Seoul since 1994 and earned fine arts master's degrees in painting from both Hong-Ik University in Seoul and the Art Institute in San Francisco, reflects the influence of her strict but happy upbringing in Korea and the freedom of the City by the Bay, where she lives now.
Although she felt extreme guilt after skipping her first MFA class, for example, she also boasts that she was the first among 8.000 classmates to dye her hair bright green.
"My parents always tell me not to overreact to any feeling-joy or sorrow- and keep balanced so as not to lose self-esteem," she says." But once I have enough reason in me to be bold, I am bold."
Stark in its realism, Yi's works is also quietly contemplative and reflects a close connection to her family.
For example, "Grandma Loved to Knit" depicts a bundle of yarn; in the painting, the inanimate object seems to glow with life.
"Painting is a record of time and history." Yi says. "By nature, it contains time passing and an accumulation of pauses of it. People make connections with my painting through their own memories and stories of their lives. They add one new layer of time with my expression of the experience. Then, the painting becomes theirs, and that is what I intend."

Artist Forum Interview

Art Price, March, 2009, Seoul, Korea

Generally speaking, "work is identical with the life of the artist" How do you think about this?
If the definition of life is the identity of artist or artist him/herself, I cannot but agree with the line. In the life that facing canvas more than half of a day, if the work and the life of artist don't go along, there cannot be more hypocrite situation.

If we say that composition is the harmony of artist's identity and style, then, color and pattern could be a dilemma to artists. For you, which one is more important?
Like you said "harmony", those two factors are two poles that consist of my works, always in mutual relationship. For me, it is hard to put one on top of the other: Artist's identity comes in the harmony of style and also, the harmony of style becomes the artist's identity.

As an artist of the 21st century, are you suffering from an obsession of showing the "new" or "different" work?
Do you mean throwing a new artistic issue or trend? Definitely it was a pressure during the school days and after for a while but I let myself free form that now. Each of us has different ways of working on our given tasks with individual characters and talents. I believe my artistic talent is showing the new way of looking at our mundane daily life with refreshed mind rather than leading the ideology of the time by suggesting "new". If I can borrow quite a commonplace remark, maybe, re-discovering the mundane life… ? If the "new" of the former one is the sunlight after a storm, mine could be the scattering and ever changing light on the surface of lake.

Who is your most favorite artist or by whom are you influenced the most?
I am influenced by not one artist but from all from the od and living masters and my artist friends. Especially, their attitude toward work and aesthetics give me a lot of inspirations and motivations. But if I can share the words that I always have in my mind are Matisse's : "What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter - a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.

What is the true happiness as an artist?
Meeting people who embrace my work with their hearts and knowing that my work is an important part of their lives. When one collector told me that in the morning, she gets the peace of mind and energy for a day by looking at my painting with a cup of tea, I felt this is it.

Art could be sometimes difficult to understand. Would you explain your work in a very simple way?
The records of small histories of us and around us which can be easily overlooked.

Wall to Wall

Alison Bing, Special to SF Gate, June, 2005, San Francisco

Jeong-Im Yi is a painter, but her work is perhaps best described as metamorphosis: A flat surface becomes a sculpture, a blank wall is graced by a blank wall, a blemish becomes an embellishment, a work-in-progress becomes a spectacularly finished work. Yi has spent years painstakingly recreating the walls of her studio on canvas, painting every last trompe l'oeil detail from the tack holes and cracks in the plaster to the uneven whitewash and fade marks where drawings once hung. They're almost narrative paintings, hinting as they do of sunny afternoons spent painting and preliminary sketches ripped from the walls and started over again from scratch. These (quite literally) wall pieces are almost mimetic, with only a canvas and stretcher to separate them from the similarly dented white walls of the Lisa Dent Gallery. With a still life painting of the paint-splashed gallery baseboards hung at ankle height, Yi draws our attention first downward to admire her exacting realism, then onward and upward to appreciate the signs of life and art on these walls as the marks of distinction they truly are. Absence is a delicate, fugitive sentiment as difficult to capture as a butterfly, but Yi has done just that in a small wall painting hung below pencil lines that mark the spot where a piece was displayed in the show before hers. There is no writing on these walls, nor does there need to be: Yi's paintings say it all.

Bio/ Artist Statement/ Reviews