“The Girl and Her Dog” is Korean artist’s Jeong Woo Jae hyper realistic exploration of the bond between human and animal. The girl seems to be caught between the dependency of childhood and self-assuredness of adulthood – with the oversized dog being the protector and guardian, naturally.
“Although outwardly the relationship between pet and owner is one of human superiority, each animal provides its owner with a source of comfort, meeting the basic human need for friendship and affection”, says Jeong Woo Jae.
Jeong’s paintings are charming and playful expressions of the bond between humans and their animals. At first glance, they might appear to be a straightforward celebration of their animal subject, yet the works go beyond mere realism – a spell Jeong is keen to shatter with the playful reversal in the size of his figures. For Jeong, each ingredient in his composition has a symbolic resonance; his animal compositions are the vocabulary through which he addresses a particular contemporary malaise.
Concerned by the increasingly unfeeling nature of our fast-paced society, Jeong maintains that humanity needs to rekindle our former nature and embrace a kind of purity of state – something that continues to exist in our animals.
As is evident from his inversion of scale and compositional importance, Jeong is keen to explore the complementary nature of the relationship between humans and animals, and to express the dual roles that both partners enjoy as carer and cared- for at once. Although outwardly the relationship between pet and owner is one of human superiority, each animal provides its owner with a source of comfort, meeting the basic human need for friendship and affection. Jeong’s work attempts to address the inner human contradiction that comes with owning an animal – at once it evidences our emotional insecurity and need for support, and yet it simultaneously resolves this craving, providing the healing and solace that makes us stronger. For Jeong, the prevailing emotional emptiness of modern society enhances the importance of these relationships, inflating or reliance on them and allowing them to be hyper-realised. In other imagery, the magnified size of the dog might feel menacing, yet Jeong’s painting it is clearly celebrated as protector and guardian.
Jeong uses the character of the girl in his paintings, poised in adolescence, to mirror his own self. Working from photographs of actual locations in Seoul, the specificity of the backgrounds anchor these scenes in the real world, yet their deserted nature ensures that the focus of the composition is always on the bond between the subjects.
A painter of exquisite technique, Jeong’s work is remarkable and we could forever swim into that warmth of the fellowship between the girl and her dog.