Art at the Nexus of Wax and Joomchi
In the art world, labels are often more useful to the viewer than to the artist. Nevertheless, I have come to identify myself as a contemporary abstract artist – a term that accommodates all of the twists and turns my career has taken without making me feel the least bit hemmed in.
I am currently working with mulberry paper (Hanji) using a technique called Joomchi. The paper is handmade in Korea and, when wet, can be fused and manipulated into shapes and various forms.
Lately I’ve been incorporating Asian calligraphy more prominently in the artwork I create with the Hanji. I’ve also begun experimenting with using encaustic, not only as a surface for mounting the Joomchi, but also for changing the character of the mulberry paper.
Joomchi, calligraphy, encaustic –these three techniques, combined, create different but complementary surfaces. By manipulating and applying these materials by hand the results are always unique. There is an intrinsic quality to the artwork that is compelling and visually appealing.
With intentionally exploring new mediums, my work continues to evolve and expand. While I find myself brimming with ideas, I try to begin each artwork without any preconceived notions. I trust in the discovery process and follow a kind of sensory intuition, letting my hands and eyes guide me, uninhibited by conscious thought.
Joomchi is an ideal technique for this type of approach. I bring all of my talent and experience to bear through the mulberry paper – cutting it, shaping it, wetting it, fusing and re-fusing it, changing its character and color, transforming it into sculptural shapes, then finally mounting it on the beeswax surface.
Working with my hands is essential. It is my way of thinking without thinking – feeling the paper, scrunching it, and ultimately bringing to life the artwork. Through my hands I access the courage to begin each new artwork and the intuition to know when each piece is complete.
PJ Bergin October 2017