The Korea Herald


Complete edition of visual artist James Jean

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : April 10, 2019 - 17:36

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From a comic book contributor to a fine art painter and sculptor, Taiwanese-American visual artist James Jean’s career has been chronicled at the Lotte Museum’s latest exhibition.

Titled “Eternal Journey,” the exhibition of some 500 works by Jean includes six large-scale paintings, about 200 drawings, some 150 cover art pieces, as well as installations and sculptures. 

Visual artist James Jean poses for pictures during a press conference on April 3 at Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul (Yonhap) Visual artist James Jean poses for pictures during a press conference on April 3 at Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul (Yonhap)

“All of my works start with drawings,” Jean said. The artist has honed his drawing and sketching skills since he started contributing cover art for DC Comic’s series “Fables” in 2001.

As a child, Jean admired Jim Lee, a world-renowned comic book artist. He picked 1988 Japanese animation “Akira” by Katsuhiro Otomo as one of the greatest influences on his imaginative drawings.

“Eternal Journey” is divided into five sections according to the five cardinal colors of Asian philosophy and arts: red, blue, black, white and yellow.

Measuring 10 meters in length, “Descendents-Blue Wood” (2018), in the blue section, is adorned with Jean’s signature intricate flower petals and images of children floating around the flowers. The work is a mixture of images the artist found in “Jack and the Beanstalk” and Lotte World Tower. 

“Descendents-Blue Wood” (2018) by artist James Jean (LMOA) “Descendents-Blue Wood” (2018) by artist James Jean (LMOA)

In another 10-meter-wide painting, “Stampede-Blue Wood,” Jean uses a mix of white and blue to depict Korea’s traditional blue-and-white porcelain. At the same time the painting is reminiscent of traditional Asian paintings of sages.

“Whirlpool-Black Water” (2019) stands out with its delicate depiction of movements of water -- one of the artist’s favored elements -- in dark colors.

In the white and yellow section, Jean introduces the stain-glassed sculpture “Gaia-Yellow Earth” (2019). There are also large-scale sculptures of the children depicted in “Descendents-Blue Wood.” 

“Gaia-Yellow Earth” (2019) by artist James Jean (LMOA) “Gaia-Yellow Earth” (2019) by artist James Jean (LMOA)

Another section highlights Jean’s illustrations made for film posters in 2017, including illustrations for “Mother!” (2017) by Darren Aronofsky, “The Shape of Water” (2017) by Guillermo del Toro, and “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) by Denis Villeneuve. In addition, his illustration for upcoming Korean film “The Divine Fury” is being shown to the public for the first time.

Meanwhile, the exhibition also showcases his collaborations with luxury brand Prada between 2017 and 2018 that consist of murals he produced at the brand’s Los Angeles and New York flagship stores.

Jean said he only takes on commercial projects that allow him the freedom and opportunity to reach a broader audience because that is the most important part of his artistic career.

By Shim Woo-hyun (