She is not the kind of person who would accept empty praises or congratulatory messages full of nostalgic sentiment instead of a proper study necessary for the just because she has passed away. Her true heart was felt from the first day I met her when she was slightly leaning against the stairs, pretending that she was standing straight, to meet me on the street. Her wish was also revealed from her face when she explained her life’s path, never minding her condition (she was panting out of breath) with a joyful facial expression. It was almost as if she were saying, ‘The weakened body is just the physique, so don’t pity the artworks born from my mind’. This was her determination. She was like that.
That is how I met with her for the first time and we talked about her artworks, her life’s journey, and her attitude towards her work for quite a long time. However, on my way back, I suddenly became worried remembering that the art world’s preexisting evaluation on JUNG Kangja—someone who was mainly known as one of the first-generation performance artists and a progressive female artist who boldly presented the nude performance in the 1960s—was preserved in those days and remained like a taxidermied animal. However, works I saw at her atelier had a different story. She constantly studied and encompassed profoundly about art over 50 years. Furthermore, she had been mostly focused in paintings unlike she did in the 1960s and the 1970s. Although her artistic style changed drastically, the attitude of avoiding to be stuck in a rut, yet constantly experimenting and being indulged in seeking something new stayed the same. Even while fighting against her disease, her work schedule was not halted, so it is natural to assume that she would not have backed down her creative passion until the last day. We needed to examine how to connect the dots between performance works from the first 10 years of Jung’s career, which she is best known for and recognized, and the relatively unknown later paintings she made for over 40 years.
Nevertheless, I believed that we had time to exchange thoughts in preparing the exhibition because at that time Jung looked strong enough to have an ardent discussion about what kind of performance she would like to perform at the opening reception. Now that we suddenly lost her, and we ought to comprehend how to present her art earnestly and wholeheartedly. The answer was to spread her works chronologically and objectively in order to introduce artists who did not receive fair recognition due to the standards or theoretical system of the time in which ARARIO GALLERY has been doing since. For that reason, we tried to prevent useless emotions and sentimental narratives while preparing the exhibition. Henceforth, the interpretation and judgment about the artist’s work are left to the viewers.
This exhibition, which is held at ARARIO GALLERY Cheonan and Seoul at the same time, highlights only the major flow of Jung’s artistic achievements. There are still many works not featured in the exhibition. She said that she wanted to fly far, far away, starting with her first solo exhibition with ARARIO GALLERY. As she wished, we hope for further exhibitions and research to be followed to shed light on her works in various ways in the future.