April 9 - May 27, 2022
Opening Reception: April 9, 5-7PM

Helen J Gallery is pleased to announce Shields, an exhibition of recent works by Mimi Jung. This exhibition marks Jung's first solo exhibition with the gallery. 

Mimi Jung's fiber-based practice has been a vehicle for her emotive, diaristic exploration of selfhood and identity while simultaneously allowing her to engage with the material experimentally. Though they are all conceived from a loom, Jung's works are manifested in various scales and forms ranging from wall work, installation, to metal cast. Acknowledging the variety of her mediums, Jung refers to her pieces as constructed forms. These forms commonly evoke an architectural experience where a sense of inside and outside becomes sensible. However, the architectural experience Jung captures is estranged and liminal. For example, Jung's early installation Four Teal Walls creates an ambiguous experience of inside and outside incorporating permutations of curved partitions and their veil-like weaved walls. Jung's metal cast work of weaved forms explores voids between warp and weft as well as involuntary spaces made from the process—reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread's negative casts. In Jung's work, exploration of this liminality is both formal and personal, as what one considers interior constitutes the extent of their identity.

Mimi Jung's recent series Shield furthers this ontological inquiry with her intimate, bodily scaled works. Shields are intimate, temporary architectures that are used to protect one's body. A shield may convey a sense of firmness or heaviness conventionally, but its efficacy depends on its versatility and aptness to the context. For example, your arms may be the best shield at moment of many dangerous occasions. Our appearance offers another form of security. How one presents oneself—such as identity or status symbol—may grant physical and social protection.

The shields Jung depicts in her series appear like a delicate veil. A mohair yarn playfully traverses warps back and forth. The vibrant color of the yarn contrasts against the slightly muted color of the background. The carefully arranged gaps between the warp and weft create an illusion of a surface draping flawlessly. The fluff from the yarn and subtle sheen further accentuate this illusionary drape. The pictorial illusion of drapery cohabits with the materiality of the woven surface here. Jung's gesture of weaving exists as both mimetic and real. Existing in both tangible and imaginary realms, Jung's veil-shield remains phantasmagorical.

The shield series is a response for Jung following the outbreak of racial violence against AAPI communities during the last two years. Witnessing the growing fear from her communities, the complacency of the offenders, and the nonchalant manner in which the authorities resided over the multitude of hate crimes brought forth the questions of the nature of selfhood and our cultural narrative.

The distance and separation become key formal elements Jung employs to understand this change and its impact on her. The concept of separation is both literal—the weaving separating the monochromatic void and the viewer—and figurative—an illusory veil hinting at the distant Other behind. For example, in A Glimpse, the veil arises from the bottom blocking the viewer's vision. It only leaves a small room on the top where the viewer perhaps can tiptoe to have a glimpse. Similarly, A Wrinkle and Behind It allude to the possible Other in the back of the veil, hinting with their slight wrinkles.

In the title of some works, the viewer may notice an attempt to shorten the distance between the observer and the presumed Other. Gentle Persuasion's veil echoes its title with its warm, gracious yellow and calmly prevails the cold mint-colored warps and the white background. Coaxed captures the moment of two shields overlapping as if they are in agreement, but the stark contrast of colors and the slight deviation between them on the right maintain the tension in the picture. The relationality depicted by Jung extends to group identity. In Most of Us, the surface can be seen as either one big shield separating into three smaller ones or the other way. The language of the title implies a sense of unity while obliviously excluding those who are not part of the most. The congruent waves together appear oceanic and sublime, suggesting a sense of dynamism behind them. Conjoins Them presents two ribbon-like shields that are identical in width and color. It is ambiguous whether these two ribbons will remain discrete or converge into one long band outside the picture frame. The title explicitly plays with this ambiguity and leaves the entity that conjoins these forms mysterious.

Mimi Jung (b. Seoul, Korea; lives and works in Montana) received a BFA from Cooper Union and attended HGK Basel and Städelschule for postgraduate studies. Most recently, she was the resident artist at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. She has mounted exhibitions throughout the United States, including Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Nina Johnson, Miami, FL; and Carvalho Park, Brooklyn, NY. Her work has also been exhibited at Les Gens Heureux, Copenhagen, Denmark; Korea International Art Fair, Seoul, South Korea; Collectible, Brussels, Belgium; Somerset House, London, UK; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. 


Helen J Gallery is a contemporary art gallery based in Los Angeles. Specializing in Asian art and design, the gallery features vibrant programming and exhibitions geared towards embracing Asian culture and the diaspora. Our program aims to promote artists from various geographic locations and diverse backgrounds, foster cross-continental dialogue, and broaden the understanding of Asian culture in the Los Angeles area and beyond.

For press inquiries, please contact cameron@helenjgallery.com.