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[Interview] Joy Jo, Mind Brewery

Updated: Feb 10

4482 SASAPARI had the pleasure of immersing ourselves in the enchanting realm of abstract painting with Joy Jo. In this edition, we take a closer look at the artistic journey of Joy Jo, an abstract expressionist hailing from Seoul. She pursued her BFA in Visual Communication Design at Hongik University and furthered her artistic pursuits with an MA in Illustration & Animation from Kingston University, London.


Abstract painting serves as a signature expression for Joy Jo, revealing her ideal world and the unique way she communicates with her audience. The vibrant colours and dynamic brush strokes with the canvas draw the audience into the artist’s universe. In the line with the title of ‘Abstract Painter’, we’ve been curious about where the artist primarily draw inspiration for her abstract work.


1.     Where is your inspiration coming from & What is the meaning of colour and shape to you?


“My first solo exhibition took place in 2010, where I used to draw animals, landscapes and various scenes. While pursuing a degree in fine arts and exploring different themes, I took a hiatus during my art school entrance preparations. During a working holiday, I leaned towards ink drawing, and ultimately, my focus shifted. Rather than representing visible subjects, I found myself drawn to expressing emotions and intangible concepts within the mind.”


One of the artist’s new interests lies in cocktails and recipe development. For Joy Jo, the mixture of alcohols to create cocktails is also a process of filtering the ideas she pursues, a way to express and connect with the world on a sensory level. Therefore, every ingredient and every place she visits becomes a source of inspiration, giving rise to new creative directions. According to Joy Jo, she employs the expansive lens of her identity, incorporating input and output in her own palette of colours and textures.(


The artist drew inspiration from her surroundings, existing in an intangible sense that is likely something we can touch or objectify. It could have been influenced by her background in visual design, but it smoothly transitioned to the realization that defining the physical shape of a certain idea was not something Joy Jo anticipated in her artistic journey. As she puts it,


“When someone says to draw about love, the typical choice might be drawing a heart shape, but I found this mode of expression dissatisfying. So, for me, the abstract art provided a more liberating platform to showcase my expressions freely, allowing me to naturally gravitate toward it.”


2.     What is the process of your work?


“I’m not inclined to document the process; rather, my thoughts over swiftly. While I established a starting point, I find myself thinking less about the outcome. To those who approach their work systematically, my approach may seem highly improvisational. However, I do set a main colour and sometimes revisit the emotions I had at that moment a few days later. There are instances where I build layers in a single piece.


I engage in a dialogue with my artwork, working in a way that addresses the unexpected and deviates from the initial plan. It’s a process of resolving element that don’t go as intended or planned. There is a strong connection to everyday life in my work.”


3.     How does your daily life and immediate surroundings influence your work?


“I enjoy taking breaks and relaxing when finishing and drying my work, especially during moments of transition when one phase concludes, and another begins. I find the interval between finishing a piece, taking breaks in the middle of the process, and moments of transition to be particularly satisfying.”


4.     How do you communicate with the audience?


“I hope the viewers has room for interpretation, and I often wish that people would find the titles or artist notes hidden now and interpret while searching. While I enjoy providing room for interpretation, I also realise that too many choices can be challenging. In such cases, I sometimes offer hints in the titles to make interpretation more accessible. I tend to create works that allow for interpretation. To make interpretation less challenging, I sometimes introduce forms. I avoid the obvious; I prefer to explore the unconventional. There are times when I appreciate people recognising my intentions, but I actually enjoy discovering open-ended meanings more. It feels like the thoughts and emotions of the audience expand. I tend to believe that one shouldn’t exclude the thoughts of the viewers.”

Understanding the artist's journey has always been a challenge for both the artist and the audience. In this case, Joy Jo has been one of the artists exploring different media, such as AI and NFT, in the years since the Covid-19 pandemic. She expresses a desire for her future projects to be related to high technology, stating that,


“In my mind, everything is interconnected, but to viewers, they may appear to be insufficient points of connection. That’s why I am exploring ways to find connecting points through video work, allowing for better understanding. As an artist, I’m striving to be more involved, employing method akin to one-on-one engagement in theatre, especially with the advancement of AI. With technology progressing, I anticipate that my ability to express and portray thoughts in real-time may evolve alongside. I aspire to share the process of creative acts, making it akin to a performance or work, and showcasing it in various ways. I wonder if it’s possible to create works that are dynamic and album-like, capturing the essence of the creative process.” 


However, she also mentioned that one of the most important things as an artist is to stay present, to remain physically connected with the audience.

Written by Dr GeeSun Hahn

현, 4482 SASAPARI Curator

Fourth Chamber Projects Director

University of Leicester, Museum Studies, UK

Photo © Joy Jo


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