Time sets boundaries from one event to the next, yet it connects them in a continuous flow. My work explores the Japanese time-space concept of Ma, which refers to the blankness or the empty space between objects, events, or moments, like the silence between notes of music. It is an interval in time and space, in which a void takes its meaningful place.

My cultural and personal experiences provide the conceptual parameters where creative responses translate the interval of ma into visual forms. Born into a Korean family in Tokyo, I immigrated to the United States as a teenager and lived in Germany for many years as an adult. I have always identified with “in-between-ness.” Being between cultures is an awkward place, not fitting into any one of them completely. Yet, the between-space is where I live. It is a place to negotiate, connect and break the boundaries.

In my studio, the process of painting also takes a conceptual form. Time is very much engraved in the slow ritual of applying multiple layers of translucent paint. Only one layer is applied per day, as paint needs time to dry. Day after day, I regard the meditative application of each layer as an act of creating a space, which eventually multiplies over time and creates dimensionality.

I am interested in developing a sensory experience through the physicality and visual expression of my work that allows the viewer to enter into an imagination of intervals in time. There, they will find meaning among the in-between-spaces in this transitory world — the void that exists in time and space as a place of contemplation, rejuvenation and change.


Presented by Dolby Chadwick Gallery

At the heart of each of Bernadette Jiyong Frank’s paintings is the Japanese concept of Ma, which is the space or pause between events, moments, forms, and thoughts. It serves as the basis for Frank’s paintings, which are built up from hundreds of layers of paint, each layer representing a single day as Frank has to allow the medium to dry between applications.

In this video, Bernadette Jiyong Frank takes us into her studio where she works on new pieces for her July/August 2020 solo exhibition, “Time Shadow.” Watch as she glazes, sands and builds hundreds of layers of paint onto the surface of her panels. The result is striking geometric abstractions that are both solid and ethereal.