This week’s Art of the Craft all about a great artist is a little overdue to say the least as it’s been so busy for me! But its one I’ve been excited to work on for a while now . Jin Yong is the son of Korean parents but grew up in China. You can read a great summary of his life to date here, by the wonderful Michelle from Wonky Eye Photography. Theres no need for me to retread all that here, instead I’ll tell about my experiences with Jin.
I first met Jin through my restaurant, Royal Villa in Salthill, where he is a regular. A visit from Jin at the restaurant is always great. He brings such a positive energy with him, you can’t but feel happy when you’re talking to him. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a bad mood! Whenever he dined with us he was always so good for posting on Twitter to show his support. In fact Jin is so active on all social media and responsive to those who interact with him, I really don’t know how he finds the time. One of the things we both enjoyed was the Galway Hour on Tuesday nights where local businesses interact for an hour on a trending hashtag, #GalwayHour. It was through this that we came up with the idea that Jin would hold an exhibition at the restaurant.
What a night, you can read all about the exhibition here. The atmosphere was unbelievable as was the support for Jin. I couldn’t believe how many people we squeezed into the place. Jin had painted some really incredible pieces for the exhibition themed around Salthill and the restaurant itself. He very generously left us three paintings after the exhibition for the restaurant, each of them of different little details of the space. Talk to anyone who knows Jin or has dealt with him for artwork and you’re bound to hear a story of his kindness and generosity at some stage. I’d like to think Jin’s wonderful success over the last few years is attributable to his great spirit and personality.
While we shot he talked about his approach to his work and how he views life. Jin doesn’t believe in the mentality of the tortured artist. He always talks of how important family is to him and that it should come before all else. As he said himself he doesn’t want to become an amazing artist if its at the cost of happiness and family life. Luckily I believe he’s become an amazing artist already while keeping his core values.
Despite this its clear to see just how huge a part of his life art is. At the moment this could even be conveyed in a literal sense. In the last while Jin has been painting a lot more large pieces. He talked of trying to spend some time moving away from commissions and challenging himself to paint new, large pieces of work. These currently occupy a good half of his house by the looks of it with more blank canvasses everywhere you look waiting to be filled with more beautiful artwork. These large pieces are powerful in their impact when you see them first. The detail in the eyes especially convey a real sense of the animals he’s working on. And people are loving them with a large lion piece recently having been shipped to Australia.
Yet despite this and his affirmation to turn down commissions and focus on his own development he still keeps taking on work. When we talk about this its the usual Jin we get. He can’t turn away certain work he says because it’s for a friend, or it has special significance to the person who’s asking for it. The man works so hard and never wants to disappoint anyone. A chance for a break and a trip home is always hard earned and well deserved. All throughout the house are canvasses, prints, orders in progress, paints, books and countless other things in the life of an artist. We got so busy talking sometimes about the story behind each piece that I almost forgot to take photos.
It was interesting to spend some time up close with Jins work as well as be able to talk to him about his process and approach. Theres something distinctive about his style that you know when you see. He showed me a comparison to some of his work from 2010 and the development is not only clear to see but impressive. His artwork is filled with layers and messages and Jin told me how he adds little notes and moods depending on how he feels at the time, like “yes to love” , “yes you can” or even “made in Ireland”! I love this sense of authenticity and the feeling of uniqueness it lends to each piece – you get a little bit of Jin in the heart of each piece he paints.
It’s been a crazy busy year for him – succesful stints at the RDS Art Source and a prestigious invitation to be the artist for the Chinese New Year celebrations at Kildare Village in conjunction with The Chinese Embassy. Jin is probably best known for his animal paintings with their distinctive detail and the selection of wonderful colours. But for tgis exhibition he painted a number of portarits of well known Irish figures such as Katie Taylor, Daniel Day Lewis and Ruby Walsh. With these I believe he managed to capture a real essence of his subjects. In fact my most personal dealings with Jin was in some way related to this.
I’m terrible at buying presents, always have been, as I’m sure my poor wife can testify. But last year I decided I was going to get it right for a change. I asked Jin to paint a portrait of our daughter from one of my wife’s favourite pictures of her. He graciously agreed even though I know he was inundated with work at the time. The results were stunning. He hand delivered it to me and I couldn’t wait to bring it home. The way in which he had captured her expression and the detail in her eyes left me speechless. Theres an element of mischief and fun that my little girl has in her eyes and it was right there – it was hard to believe someone could portray that essence so well but he did. My wife predictably was in tears when she saw it – in the best way possible. I don’t know how I’m going to top that present this year!
You can also see all the previous Art of The Craft installments here
If you’re interested in this project or know someone who would be a good candidate to have their skills showcased please contact me on [email protected] or call me on 0867279638. For general enquiries or prices for photography packages feel free to get in touch as well or use the contact form.