By Lee Sun-young (art critic)

Nature or artificial structures in Jeong Ji-hyun’s art, though described in great detail with her sophisticated touch on superficial curves and delicate shade, look less real but more illusive like a mirage. Red spines or dots laid over the illusion lure viewers to the canvas, conveying a keen sense of tactile and disparateness accentuated by a sharp contrast with decolorized background.
The tension caused by this disparateness is in close resemblance with the paradox underlying the titles of her art pieces such as "Flower of Desert" or "Spring of Desert". As the title suggests, "Flower of Desert" or "Spring of Desert" brings up a phantasmal image of an oasis glimmering in a tough and sterile desert. It is interesting that cactus, the main motif of her work, is regarded as a plant of hallucinogen in North America.
Peter Furst, in his book "Hallucinogens and Culture," makes interesting observations about the effect of peyote cactus, the first hallucinatory cactus described in the ancient American art. Under the influence of this plant, he explains, users can see images of resplendent colors, subtle spirits surrounding natural materials, and experience different perception of time and space, along with non-gravity, macropsia and change of sensations.
Like peyote cactus, Jeong Ji-hyun’s art work jumbles up illusion with multi-layered reality by purposely leaving out background where a landscape or an object might have belonged. Entrapped in this vacuum-like image which contains no time and space, viewers can experience altered state of perception along with heightened emotional tension and relax.
What wakes the viewers to reality from this illusion suggested by the stem of cactus is bloody-red spine described as sharply pointed distal. As modified skin, spines continue on renewing themselves bridging the gap between an object and its surrounding. Associated with nerves which bristle up in response to a touch, spines symbolize a sensitive receptor of touch which feels about the world like hair on our skin.
Another element used to visualize the sense of touch is color. Color is generally used to give depth and shape to an object in the representational art. But Jeong refuses to follow the convention and employs color to add to the sense of touch. Bloody red spines or red mold gathering on old pieces of furniture paradoxically stresses soft and smooth surface of the furniture, catching the eyes of viewers as visual accents.
In the meantime, faint objects worked with spray tools, though colorless, respond to the environment surrounding them. Like the feathers of swans or white wings of butterflies, they reflect the white color of the sun. Beads attached to the canvas also control the incidence and reflection of light, breathing vitality into her drawing.
Butterflies or fish appear to be blending with their magical environment where water and land intertwine to create an artistic ecology. In this magical world extended on a canvas, plants also metamorphose. Full-blossomed flowers fade away into mottles or red mold covering the surface like black spots. Splendid colors fade away and lay bare the color hidden underneath. Although the color of death and dissolution is not as magnificent as the color of life in its full blossom, it is exquisite in its own way. With her figurative style, Jeong integrates disparate elements such as softness/sharpness and illusion/reality into a body of work where visual illusion and tactile concreteness converge, exhibiting the duality of art. 

In this way, Jeong defies traditional convention of the representational art while not turning to the abstract art. Three-dimensional patterns like red dots and lines, as they are rhythmically arranged on the canvas, descend into two-dimensional patterns. The traces of pigment accentuate flatness of her drawing.
Vaguely depicted objects also resemble dim shadow which stands for otherness and absence. Stoichita, Victor in his book, "A Short History of The Shadow", reveals that the first artistic representation began with tracing an outline around a man's shadow. Since it took after the projection of an original, the first painting was nothing more than a copy of a copy (which is shadow). Unlike mirror which represents sameness, shadow represents otherness. In the Western representational art, shadow was replaced with mirror and the main focus of painting was centered on representing the original as precisely as possible.
Although Jeong referred to existing objects to describe furniture or cactus, they are blurred with multi-layered strokes in a way that defies “trompe-l'œil”, a traditional technique of representation that focuses on the similarities with the original. In this way, she refuses to project an object like a transparent window and claims to represent otherness and absence instead of sameness and existence.  
Such a feature of Jeong’s painting is closely related to the characteristics of symbol – discrepancy with and absence of an object – discussed in the modern linguistics. In his book, "What is Painting?" Julian Bell asserts that representation itself, that is, a geometry that covers everything doesn’t exist and only peripheral differences exist. Painting, like language, is a system of symbols. And the symbols are defined by the differences among themselves as the modern linguistic theory claims. Language is related not only to the discrepancy between signifiant and signifie but also to the absence of a reference. Distinguished layers of textures in Jeong's painting exemplify the discrepancy between signifiant and signifie. This discrepancy is a feature of modern language and source of fantasy. Rosemary Jackson mentioned in her book, "the Fantasy," that fantasy brings in the realm of non-meaning, that is death, by replacing existence with absence through signifiant which lacks signifie.
Moreover, the images presented in Jeong's pictures are more close to a simulacra than a copy. While representation originates from an idea, simulacre originates from nothing. As opposed to representation judged by its similarity with the original, simularcre is judged by discrepancy. That is because simulacrum is based on the absence of an entity as opposed to mimesis which bases on entity. In the meantime, abstract art doesn’t copy a model or a narrative in its pursuit of pure form

Jeong refuses to confine her art work to the representational way of confirming object(realism), but she also rejects to return to the prison of language(abstract art). Instead she carefully chooses a third way. Gilles Deleuze, in his book, "Logique de la sensation,” criticizes the reliance of abstract art on symbolic code. As he puts, abstract visual space no more needs the haptic tension that traditional figurative art had. As an alternative, he suggests a third way, which is neither abstract nor figuration, but figure. Figure doesn't have an object outside an image or conceptual elements. Deleuze constantly takes issue of representational model in his books. In “l'Anti-Oedipe,” he focuses on desire over meaning, and on the world of transformation over an idea in “Kafka : pour une litteature mineure.” In “Difference et Repetition,” he mentions about Haptic(haptique)space as an alternative to optical(optique) space.
Haptic space is a visual space which extends our two-dimensional limits into three-dimensional textile realm. With her emphasis on tactile sensation and exuberant exploration of desire and transformation, Jeong’s art provides a new solution which corresponds to the ground-breaking way of thinking suggested by the postmodern philosophy. As a leading spirit in the art, Jeong Ji-hyun tries to break out of the conventional tradition of representation to create a new space. And in that space, haptic sensation, transcending the limits set on by representations of optical code, will provide a wild basis for painting.