Won Kun Jun Paints His Visions of Stripes, Spots, and Plaids

For Korean artist Won Kun Jun, painting is about locating the essence of color in its purest, most sensory form. With a roster of advanced techniques, Jun works by calculating chromatic values, drawing out the potential of paint to offer an emotional connection through intuitive color psychology.

In his exhibition “Enlightenment” at Seoul’s Gallery LVS, Jun presents differing groups of works, each of which imparts on the viewer a different atmosphere through his mastery of layering and manipulating subtle hues.

While the paintings in “Enlightenment” share a common commitment to tonal harmony, there are six distinct series at play here. A group of dichromatic works scrape white against the black background of the canvas; others are defined by the vibrant colors applied only along their edges. Plaid-inspired paintings create grids of contrasting colors tending towards the warmer side of the spectrum, occasionally punctuated by cool hues that visually open up their surfaces. 

The stripes in other works almost seem to show early morning light peeking through shutters, and numerous spotted canvases appear like faraway lights, or the floating dust reflections that pop up in amateur photography. A group of almost-monochromes use auras of contrasting colors to impart a feeling of evanescence.

Taking a cue from Mark Rothko, Jun’s work attempts an articulation of the most basic emotions through simplified color and form. The artist explains that his paintings are meant to be “used as a means to express a feeling…They are all what I felt and viewed directly through my eyes, not any social issue and ideological notion.”

He has developed an exhaustive and unique technique in which he applies heavily diluted acrylic onto the canvas, then wipes it off to leave traces under the next transparent layer—a single surface of the canvas holding sometimes thirty layers or more. Maintaining considerable patience and attention to detail in a process that seems almost meditative in its repetitive character, Jun is able to develop glowing surfaces and impart upon his works a rare and lustrous presence.

—K. Sundberg


Enlightenment” is on view at Gallery LVS, Seoul, Apr. 9–May 9, 2015.


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