2021, 11” x 14”
Oil on canvas
Jeannie Rhyu’s painted dreams are colorful autobiographical fables, home to flame-headed female Asian figures, nature spirits, mischievous bops and sprites, and creatures from Korean mythology. Her paintings dance between autobiography and surrealism, taking inspiration from ancestral memories, folklore, history, her emotions, as well as her experience of Asian-American womanhood. In her paintings, She uses the influence of traditional Korean imagery and combines it with the contemporary to assemble colorful realms that float between dream states, mythology, and everyday scenes.
In Rhyu’s recent paintings, different forms of 불가사리 (Bulgasari) can be spotted, illuminating her canvas while engulfed in flames. Bulgasari is a mythical creature from ancient Korean folklore that grows from eating metal swords and the arrows shot at it. Even the heat from a burning fire cannot melt it. Bulgasari’s invincible form attests to resilience and strength.
Jeannie Rhyu is a Korean-Canadian artist, based in New York City. Her work has been exhibited internationally in group and solo shows in New York, Vancouver, Seoul, Beijing, and London. She graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York. When she isn’t painting, she interviews artists for her online publication, Mint Tea, launched in April 2021 to amplify female, Asian, and queer voices.