Thursday, March 14, 2019

proud of my Ajumma

If you've followed the blog, you know that I've slapped up paintings from my #3 Ajumma before. She seems to have become even more productive since the death of her husband, my #3 Ajeossi, this past January. I think this may be one of her best efforts yet, especially given the subtle interplay of colors:

I regret that our family didn't make more of an effort to keep the many, many paintings done by my great uncle Trav (short for "Travers"), a professional artist of some small renown in the North Jersey/NYC region way, way back in the day. Uncle Trav's work, when viewed as objectively as possible, wouldn't have fetched the highest prices at Sotheby's. As I got older and began to analyze art with a keener eye, I saw that Uncle Trav would make mistakes in terms of shading and perspective. He was still a pro, but if we were talking Olympic figure skating, he would have been skilled enough to be an Olympian, but perhaps not skilled enough to be a medalist. With regard to shading and perspective, he could have learned a thing or two from Ajumma, whose work is way more meticulous than I ever would have thought could come from someone of her brusque and impatient character. I think I still have a lot to learn when it comes to reading people.

Ajumma's painting is also fascinating in terms of the smoky background. I've seen this technique before, especially with many still-life pieces (trivia: "still life" is called nature morte—dead nature—in French), but also with certain portraits—and it always adds a bit of motion to the Gestalt. Maybe that's the point: the quietly roiling background of the still life is the actual "life" in question, while the unmoving fruits in the foreground represent the "still"ness. If so, then maybe there's a bit of irony: at a guess, most people would say that "life" is represented by the fruits, given their wholesome savoriness, and despite the fact that the fruits are actually, well, dead. (Hence nature morte in French.)

I've told Ajumma that I'd like to buy some of her paintings, either for my apartment or for our office. She replied that she's doing several paintings right now, so she'd like me to wait, and then she'll simply give me some paintings. I told her I'd like to pay for the work; she replied with a curt "Don't worry about it."

Ajumma's eldest son is a professional singer. My brother Sean is a professional cellist. Uncle Trav was an artist; his sister Gertrude was a professional singer. The artistic Force is strong in my family, I think—both the American and the Korean branches of it (even though Ajumma is a relative through marriage, not through blood: it's her husband who was my mother's cousin, and he had no artistic inclinations whatsoever). I may possess some of that juju as well, although I've never really trained hard in any specific pursuit—not cartooning, not painting, not acting. The only thing I do consistently is write, and while I think I've improved quite a bit since I started this blog in 2003, I know I have a long way to go. As for my other potential artistic pursuits: you can't become a Jedi unless you visit Yoda on Dagobah. Consistent, your efforts must be. Form habits, you must. Essential, practice is.

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