Korean-American painter Leeah Joo’s work is inspired by the enigmatic and hidden. In her illusionist paintings, she teases our predisposition to probe and uncover. Intriguing parcels in her Pojagi series are enveloped by a lavish, traditional Korean wrapping cloth and beckon to be unpacked. The richly detailed paintings of lacey drapery in her Parrhasius series present an open-ended narrative, inviting us to question what lies behind the curtain. Joo studied painting and art history at Indiana University in Bloomington and received her MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art, Her paintings have been exhibited widely in the U.S. and South Korea. She is the recipient of notable awards from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, George Sugarman Foundation, Connecticut Commission on Arts and the Puffin Foundation. Currently, Leeah Joo lives and paints in Middlebury, Connecticut and teaches at Southern CT State University and Paier College.
Artist Statement for Parrhasius Series:
My drapery paintings are inspired by the tale of the contest between Ancient Greek painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius, to determine who is the greater painter. When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so real, birds ﬂew down to peck at them. When Zeuxis tried to pull back the covering of Parrhasius' painting, he realized the curtain was the painting. Zeuxis said, "I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.” This deception celebrates the allure of illusion in painting. These paintings push my boundaries as painter, how real can I get, how much longer can I go, all without an apparent subject behind the curtain.
Artist Statement for Pojagi Series:
When my daughter's first hanbok arrived, it was carefully wrapped in a beautiful pojagi made of ornate silk as precious as the dress itself. Pojagi, a Korean traditional wrapping cloth, remnants of clothes and bedding is also used as food covering. I have memories of my grandmother preparing our meals early in the morning. She gently covered the food with a pojagi until it was ready to be served. Every morning the menu was the same, but every morning there was a small thrill in the uncovering, to find the neat arrangement of dishes prepared with care. Each bundle through its selection of patterns, colors, and the knot becomes a distinct gift, waiting to be unveiled.