06 January–11 February, 2023

January 6 through February 11, 2023
Opening reception January 6, 6 - 8PM
431 Washington Street, New York, NY 10013

Charles Moffett is pleased to present Riptide, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based, South Korean-born artist Julia Jo. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, following a celebrated presentation at NADA New York 2022, as well as Jo’s solo debut in the U.S.

Jo’s practice encompasses a distinctive style of oil painting that incorporates a vibrant color palette to render compositions that oscillate between the figurative and the abstract. There is no stillness in the world of Jo’s paintings; in many ways her work runs parallel to a life that has been lived in near constant motion. While born in Seoul, since grade school, Jo has moved from country to country, state to state, never in one place for very long until settling most recently in New York. Her practice draws upon a well of personal experiences of misconnections, social miscues and interpersonal distance.

Drawing together twelve new paintings, the exhibition features a series of the largest paintings Jo has made to-date, including three spanning 80 x 80 inches. The expanded canvases introduce a newfound physicality and immersiveness to the compositions. In an evolution from last spring’s exploration of the possibilities for her paintings within the formal constraints of the monochrome, this exhibition sees the artist’s full embrace of the exuberant potency and impact of color.

The paintings’ compositional roots are figures immersed in relationships of all forms — parental, romantic, platonic, antagonistic, voyeuristic. The force of these interactions suffuse the very environment the figures occupy, with the emotional and the abstract overwhelming the rational and the linear. Beginning each work by sketching in oil directly onto the canvas, Jo paints through a winding path of figurative discovery and loss. This process reverberates in the viewer’s experience of the final paintings themselves. The sinewy flex of a leg, the open, desirous gape of a mouth, the bend of an archway, the neck of a wine bottle — all come into view just as quickly as they disappear. Her forms are slippery, simultaneously enticing yet eluding a firm grasp, engaging you in a tug-of-war between experience and understanding.

Universal emotions — desire, envy, joy, nostalgia, grief — anchor her paintings, which call to mind the sensuous richness, drama and dynamism of the Baroque. Striving to capture vast depths of feeling, Jo relishes in painting’s ability to convey the inarticulable: what the graze of a hand to a face or the collapse of one form into the outstretched arms of another can express that words cannot. Yet even with the power of color, line and form at her dexterous hand, abstraction takes over and communication falters. It’s at that precarious moment when her paintings are born, emerging from a terrain of perpetual static, from the tension between the familiar and the fleeting, the want to embrace and the fear to reveal. Understanding nearing the surface, only to disappear the second you thought you held it.

Julia Jo (b. 1991, Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. MFA Parsons School of Design 2019, BFA Smith College, 2016) focuses her practice on compositions in oil paint, which she applies in both precise and heavy brushstrokes. Her approach to each canvas allows her compositions to embrace both the figurative and the abstract. While at first glance Jo’s paintings possess a frenetic energy, upon closer inspection, discernible imagery emerges hinting at multi layered narratives, interpersonal dynamics, and missed connections. Following Jo’s New York solo debut at Charles Moffett this winter, the artist will be the subject of two upcoming solo exhibitions on the West Coast, including presentations at James Fuentes in Los Angeles, CA in May, and Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco, CA in the fall. Her work is in the permanent collection of ICA Miami.