First, I’d love to know more about you! Where are you from, and where are you based now?
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and also spent some time in New York City when I was young. At the moment I am mainly based in London and Seoul. Since I really enjoy traveling around the world, I had chances to work in Paris and Leipzig previously as a participant for residency programs. This fall, I am planning to work in Milan for a few months.
What first interested you in painting? Do you have any significant influences or mentors who have impacted your work?
I went to an art middle school and high school, as I especially enjoyed drawing and painting, and went to art college very naturally. I always wanted to know more about Korean art, so I applied to a Korean painting course, and afterwards I felt the materials weren’t just right for me, so I decided to study study abroad to study painting in graduate school in London. Every day was a real challenge exploring oil paint and materials, but I really loved it. I think the process happened naturally. While when I was in college, my great friend and also mentor, Eemyun Kang, gave me helpful advice as a painter. And great painters – Wassily Kandinsky, William de Kooning, Cecily Brown, Alex Katz and Robert Ryman – are my heroes.
Can you tell me about your practice? Where do you derive your ideas from?
Mostly I get inspired by a certain atmosphere. I don’t have any specific subject matter in my work, but I suppose I paint anything that gives me some kind of strong impression, such as the sunlight, a good smell, citrusy taste, moody music, and so on. After I decide on an abstract image for a painting, I focus on “painting” the paints onto the canvas itself.
What is your process like? How do you get started, or know when you’ve finished?
Getting ready to start takes quite long. And I think I tend to get ready even slower than my normal speed, since I want to finally check and simulate in my mind about how to start and finish the painting. Once I start, I normally finish in one go. I like to keep my paintings looking very fresh, so when I feel a painting starts to be overripe or overcooked, I immediately stop.
What is your studio space or workspace like?
I am very disorganized person, so my studio space is always messy.
Is there a tool or object in your studio that you couldn’t live without?
A heater in winter and a fan in summer, obviously.
What is the best advice you have received so far?
I very often compare painting to cooking, that one of my tutors at RCA, Phillip Allen, first mentioned to me. He asked what my favorite food was at that time, and I told him it was salad. And he told me the connection of my painting to salads, and he recommended that I “toast” [the work] a bit. Until now, I connect lots of foods that I’ve tried to my paintings, and I like to think in this way.
What is the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do? What drives you?
I like to get visual stimulation in general, and at the moment I am enjoying getting that through my paintings. I always want to surprise myself, which isn’t an easy thing, but I will carry on. And of course, I feel very happy when I get good feedback from people.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you’re currently working on?
By the end of 2016, I had an open studio in Bow, London, which was a blast. This year is a very important year for me: I have an emerging artists’ group show coming up in April in Gwacheon, South Korea, and solo show in August in Seoul. And also having a discussion of planning a show at a cozy space in New York City, and lastly, a two-person show by the end of the year in Seoul.
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