JI WON CHA

Ji Won Cha (b. South Korea) is an artist based in London. In 2020 she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting, and she is now enrolled on the MA programme at The Royal College of Art. Ji Won’s works have been exhibited extensively in Seoul, South Korea, Rhode Island, USA and elsewhere. Selected exhibitions include ‘Painting Triennial Exhibition,’ Woods-Gerry Gallery, RI, ‘Catch a Climpse,’ Gallery Float, Gyounggi do, Korea, and ‘RAW,’ Soho Revue, London. Ji Won Cha’s work is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government collection, and the RISD Special Collection (Rhode Island School of Design Fleet Library). Awards include the 41st Korea Creative Art Contest, Bronze prize (2020), and the RISD Honours Student Academic Award.

Ji Won Cha is motivated by life’s contradictions; nature/nurture, digital/biological, fear/delight. Her paintings, set in nature’s abstract landscapes are imbued with care and fear. An abstract language, paint strokes that mimic digital mapping or code, and textures that pulse on the surface of the canvas all endeavour toward representation of a natural harmony. The resultant paintings appear as flows of imagery from a seeming unconscious mind.

Familiar motifs from ancient fairy tales are dotted through the paintings of Ji Won. She places importance on these childhood learnings and discoveries and is interested in the way they shape adult minds and consequently alter experiences. The knowledge we attain through childhood forms like layers in the mind, some memories are visually sharper than others, some appear mystified like an out of focus image. Ji Won communicates this dreamlike optical with skill and texture in her artworks.

DREAMLAND 304

September 2022

Artist Ji Won Cha enjoys creating an active harmony amongst the conflicting components of her paintings, including colour, texture, and subject. ‘Dreamland 304’ is an exhibition of mixed media paintings made up of air brush techniques, oil pastel and oil paint. One can see the process of making within each painting, they often appear mapped, like a digital image might be (when data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image). Cha wavers between the figurative and the abstract, and this sensitive hesitation oscillates through the artworks. Other dichotomies present in the work include digital/biological. Some of her painterly narratives are set in an abstract woodland, a place often shrouded in magic and mystery and the setting of many fairy tales. The paintings are ultimately about such tales that we learn as children, and how these experiences come to influence us, whether consciously or not, in adulthood. Illustrations of fairy tales from the 1900s, along with images from more contemporary sources such as social media and personal photographs influence the way Ji Won Cha paints.
Ji Won is also interested in how these tales and folklores educate us, or interrogate the unknown, with the hope of discovering truth. We as humans strive to know more about that which is far mightier than us, nature. Yet we heavily and ungraciously intervene, often to the detriment of other species who also rely on nature. Ji Won expresses “It appears increasingly wrong to call nature ‘natural’ anymore. In the current time, nature is objectified; it is a commodity, a fabrication, a fetish.” The artist herself finds solace in nature but uses it within the context of her art in an attempt to comprehend its inherent contrasts. Nature at once inflicts absolute fear and paralysing awe, through it we celebrate life and contemplate fears.