JUSTIN YOON - OPENING NIGHT

18 May - 8 June 2022
  • Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to present Opening Night, an online solo exhibition by NY- based artist Justin Yoon, opening on May 18, 2022.

    • Justin Yoon populates his oneiric American subject with figures whose physicality feels borrowed from a glamorised age of American media. Justin revises this place, and populates it instead with queer, Asian heroes he names ‘Marge the Space Queen’ and ‘Blue Dream’. These heroes are joined by ‘Fivepound’z' the Shih Tzu dog who rounds off the trio. Based on Yoon’s own first pet, the pink painted dog plays an important role as the neutral asexual character in contrast to the hyper glam and sensualized duo. Initially intended to become graphic novels, these pictures carry the suggestion of cohesive narrative, but ultimately nothing is fixed. Yoon’s reckons with the hyperbolic, oversimplified vision of America that exists in 1950/70’s media and reappropriates the tropes; the fashion, the hair the interiors- applying them to his version, a version where he can invent his own neon idols and invert or parody cliched stagging’s of heteronormativity. He uses gouache and acrylic to paint his pictures, applying bright washes of blue, pink and purple, adding a dreamlike haze of glitter as a campy visual leitmotif.

    • His pallets toe the line between Miami Vice and Disney’s Cinderella. In Yoon’s American Dream there is no seediness, no violence - instead; solidarity, friendship, and fast food are brought to the fore in synthetic technicolour. He deploys cliches playfully, riffing off Hollywood ideals. Two recurring characters coast around the suggestive vastness of Justin’s world on luxury planes, waist deep in water, in the back of a convertible - Justin experiments with these ubiquitous images of glamour and Americana, reprising and reworking them. Magical realism is a key feature in Yoon’s visual language. In ‘Dews of Dus’k 2021, a green Buick LeSabre flies under giant blue and pink figures that appear over an LA skyline like posing Gods - a small pink Shih Tzu sits proudly at the top of the composition. Growing up between LA and Bunding in South Korea has allowed Yoon access to a mass of contradictory visual references- this is what gives the paintings their phantasmagoric energy- memories of childhood car rides in LA, Manga, jazz, and Hollywood films all blend together with gentle euphoric effect. His subjects pose as if perpetually caught in the night-time under-glow of a motel pool. Painted and overtly gendered in a facile blue, pink symbolic order. This again feels playful, humorous - Yoon understands how queerness subsumes, reframes and mocks heteronormative codifications.

    • A hunky blue character struts through the picture and flexes. He looks borrowed from the cover of BlueBoy magazine; outfitted in white ankle socks and briefs, big hairy thighs and a moustache. The obvious reference here is to Tom of Finland, but Yoon feels as though he is once again democratising an area of American visual culture. Finland’s predominantly white, hyper sexualised version of queerness (typical of most representations of gayness in the 80’s) is swapped out for another version, one founded in friendship and agency, at least a different kind of agency. Justin makes sure we understand the tongue-in-cheek meta-dream he is painting for us. The picture plane is often a proscenium, a stage with curtains - a carefully crafted mis-en-scene. Legs flashing stilettos appear from behind a curtain, a weightlifter stands on centre stage with a barbell on his shoulders, a microphone is painted hanging from a hand. Yoon is playing in these performative tropes, these scenes of action. They are unique moments of queer intimacy set in the heightened theatrical dream space of a Hollywood that never happened. The Hollywood that did happen with its painted palm tree silhouettes, reckless romance, and sparkling poolside sex pervaded the collective American conscious. These ideas and aesthetics are indelibly linked to place, the desert, the city, the music, but Justin Yoon’s paintings are a joyful culture jam- a retelling of the American story; in which a straight, white authorship is subaltern to a queer Asian one.

  • Justin Yoon (b. 1991, Los Angeles, California) is a Brooklyn based painter. Yoon holds a B.F.A in Illustration from Parsons...

    Justin Yoon (b. 1991, Los Angeles, California) is a Brooklyn based painter. Yoon holds a B.F.A in Illustration from Parsons School for Design, NY. His work has been exhibited at Anat Ebgi Gallery, Shelter Gallery, Hannah Traore Gallery, Governors Island Art Fair, Felix Art fair, and more. His online show with Taymour Grahne Projects opened this spring. Upcoming projects incldued a group show with Museum of Sex (New York, NY), and two solos with Mindy Solomon Gallery (Miami, FL) and Anat Ebgi(Los Angeles, CA). Justin's work has been published in Math Magazine, Lezs Magazine, and more.

  • Please click here for Justin Yoon's CV