Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Jeena Shin: Fractus
16 October - 14 November 2009
Upstairs in the narrower and smaller of the two Two Rooms galleries, Jeena Shin presents a long thin painting extending horizontally along the main wall. At first glance black, it really consists of variations of dark grey, a ribbon of folding and unravelling tangrams - made up of differently toned triangles - that skirts the edges of a skinny poised oblong that could be an elegant hovering beam, a recessed slot, or an ebony rectangular sash – even a silken belt.
The tumbling pyramids within it are small on the far left, rapidly increasing in size (while becoming flatter) towards the middle and then decreasing a little over to the right. The spatial properties of these crisply delineated geometric forms are designed to flicker and twist, yet they also depend very much on the changing hourly light, darkening and deepening as the day progresses.
Despite the elegance of the narrow composition that overall is perfectly positioned on the long wall, the fact that Shin has used five hardboard panels creates a problem, for they should align perfectly butted together - but they don’t (though it is hard to tell from the above photograph). The edges aren’t flush. This makes you wish she had painted it directly onto the wall as in the recent Adam show, or currently in the ARTSPACE stairwell. It would look sensational: a long black strip embedded into the Two Rooms architecture.
There are two dilemmas here: Firstly the panels are not perfectly identical in measurement. It is not as if they are and have been hung poorly. It is the height discrepancy in one which though small, in this kind of pristine practice is a serious disaster. Secondly, maybe panels with a palpable thickness are the wrong option. Perhaps Shin should have painted on metal sheets that hardly project out from the surface of the wall at all. Or as I’ve said, worked on the wall directly. The gallery can still sell such a project adapted for other walls and other sites, if salability is an issue.
Yet for all that, this flawed work is still worth seeing. For this artist, Fractus 2009 is unusual because of the range of shape sizes within its unravelling concertina strip, and the way the dark negative shapes on its upper and lower edges interact with similarly angular ones in the centre. Plus there are also unexpected surprises in the detail, such as series of spikey star-shapes on the left-hand side, and a flattening of less solid forms on the right. Oddly the coal coloured, crystalline forms get localised within the stratalike horizontal structure, as if some sort of bizarrely twisting, geological process is slowly at work. A lot to think about.