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Dreamlike Self-Portraiture by Joanne Nam

An oil painting by Joanne NamBruise, oil on wood panel

Korean-born, Los Angeles-based artist Joanne Nam creates figurative paintings that draw on surrealist and illustrative techniques. Primarily working with feminine figures, Nam’s works take on a sense of dreamlike self-portraiture.


A painting of a figure in a black coat  standing among treesHiatus, oil on canvas


I love the softness and detail with which each of Nam’s artworks is rendered. The smoothly realistic style that Nam employs reminds me a little of the works of Hannah Yata, who also tends to employ surreal forms of storytelling. Forest and foliage imagery appears frequently in Nam’s portfolio, with pale figures often placed central to the painted plane and contrasted sharply with the darkness of the backgrounds.


Nam’s works have an aesthetic and tonal undercurrent of darkness, with figures often appearing disoriented or apprehensive. Through this deliberate sense of tension, each artwork takes on a sense of urgency, asking the viewer to examine each detail as if solving a mystery.  


A painting of a woman sitting in a dark woodParanoia, oil on wood panel

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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