D Yoo Resume Pic

I received my degree in Fine Art and the Humanities from the University of Chicago, where my strongest influences were my painting professor Vera Klement and the proximity of the Art Institute of Chicago. My undergraduate work was primarily abstract, deeply influenced by Matisse, Russian icon painting, Robert Motherwell, and Barnett Newman.

After graduation, I chose not to pursue a master’s degree or a teaching career. Instead  I decided to pursue my growing interest in painterly realism. At that time Minimalism and Conceptualism were dominant, but there was (as there is still) a core of distinguished American artists who practiced the kind of contemporary realism based on modernism that attracted and inspired me. Matisse continued to be a guiding light, but I also became interested in the work of Larry Rivers, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Edward Hopper, Richard Diebenkorn, John Singer Sargent, and contemporary still life painters in general. After seven years of work, I felt ready to approach galleries, and was offered representation by Jan Cicero Gallery in Chicago in 1983. Still life comprised the majority of my paintings for many years, with occasional dips into figure and landscape.

In the late 80s/early 90s I traveled frequently to Switzerland and Maine to paint, and along the way still life gradually took a back seat to landscape. I studied and admired the work of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, Ferdinand Hodler, Fairfield Porter, and Lois Dodd. Enchanted by Maine immediately,  I felt I had found a place that would provide an endless source of visual problems to challenge me, and eventually moved here from Chicago in 1996.

In 2018, I traveled to Russia in order to look more closely at major collections of Russian icon painting, a long-time interest. Currently I am engaged in a new body of work that is a departure from landscape. These paintings focus on many of the same visual elements that I sought in landscape and still life, with the addition of the interplay between the icon painting tradition and my response to it, and the stimulus of working in different media.

How I work

I have always been drawn to essentially abstract relationships, intense color and light, pattern, and the tension that strong diagonals and negative space create in a composition.  One of the greatest joys of painting outdoors has been the heightened sense of perception that awakens and makes everything beautiful and paintable. Another joy is finding marks that my hand likes to make and incorporating them into a coherent and expressive painterly surface, an aspect coming into play even more in my current work.

When working on landscapes, I painted primarily from life, studies, and memory. Though I frequently painted outdoors, I don’t identify with the “plein air” designation. It’s simply that when looking for visual problems that interested me, I generally found most of them outdoors. Photographs were occasionally useful for recording complicated shapes, but otherwise I didn’t find them very helpful. In recent years, the information set down outdoors became more of a starting point. The resolution of the painting gradually happened in my studio weeks, and sometimes months, afterwards. I’ve become more of a seeker than a finder.

My new work is a departure from many, if not all, of my usual painting practices, using wood panels prepared with traditional gesso, layers of pigment, and metal leaf, and picking up threads that began as a student and have been woven throughout my work in various ways over the years.