How does it show in your work that you are from Jeju? Or when people see your work, do they notice any Jeju characters in your work that you didn’t know?
(I think the work represent individual characters more, but there must be some effects of a growing environment too.
Jeju effects my work a lot. I have been to many places on Jeju with my parents since I was a kid, those experiences kind of made me. (After I grew up, I found out that not all families went around to lots of places like my family did.) Anyway, I experienced more of Jeju compared to others, it’s true that I feel a bond to Jeju. So how I feel about Jeju reflects in my work naturally. I don’t know how ‘being like Jeju’ can be explained with words but many people say that my works are like Jeju. Even people who don’t know I am from Jeju often say the same thing. It is surprising. I don’t know how I and in what mechanism I show Jeju in my work but one sure thing is that my entire being naturally involves Jeju and I realize them through my hands again.
Do you have any rituals before you start to work?
Well, I don’t have any rituals but I prefer to work in an organized place so I clean the whole place when I start a new job. Many people think that artists can’t control their inspiration or they are not normal, but that’s not true. It is very important to do pre-work methodically for oriental paintings. I can say that that is my ritual. I make up my mind while putting papers on, striking them simply and gluing them. I hate making a fuss when I work.
Where do you get inspiration for your work from?
Everything that people experience in their life. Every conflict of when the ego which is me, meets the outside world is a source of inspiration. Some people think that the inspiration comes from an emotional moment, but I think differently. These inspirations appear while people’s life experiences have added up and accumulated. Artists should experience and feel lots of things. We should be hard workers.
Why do you do ‘art’?
Many young artists ask themselves this question and agonize over it. Some artists leave the art world blaming their failure to answer that question as the reason. It is an important question and I also have agonized over it. I think if I could answer that question, I would find a better reason to why or how I should work. But I am still young. I don’t think I need to answer that question right now. (I won’t stop agonizing over it though.) Someday I would probably define why I do art, but for now, I want to keep my possibilities open. I started to do art naturally, I take doing art for granted. It seems like my life has to be like that. That is enough of a reason for me for now.
When we see your work, we can tell you are a person who thinks so much. What do you think about when you work normally? Do your thoughts reflect on your work?
First of all, I like that people can tell that I have many thoughts through my work. It is important to make good visuals but the background concepts or stories are important too at this time. I think my work seems to have many thoughts because I agonized to put something in them. It is a result of the revelation of that. The art world asks young artists to keep agonizing and making attempts. When I work, I normally think about my works’ directions or future plans. I keep trying to verify if what I am doing now is correct or is possible to relate to the next work. I often think about these kinds of things not only when I work but on ordinary days too. Those thoughts reflect on my work a lot. Of course, those thoughts often go differently through my hands which are unconscious filters. During the process, it makes me find new things and think about them again. I think this part is the biggest beauty of art.
Your previous works were colorful and warm but this time it is totally opposite. There are no characters either. Do you have any reason that your style changed?
I have consistently painted nature. More specifically, they were the result of the relationships between humans and nature. I drew nature like Eden or paradise and put human characters in them sometimes. Suddenly I thought it doesn’t have any meaning to draw romantic nature these days. It could be the healing of nature or purification of emotion but today the issues that relate to nature are too intense to think of easily. The arguments about the relationship between nature and humans never stop. Money invested in nature makes the argument more intense. I needed to go into detail more on my discussion about nature. From a long time ago, paintings that expressed nature have reflected human ideals. In landscapes, nature is expressed with shapes that make sense, it is organized from a practical perspective for human purposes. There is a theory that landscapes should be painted to satisfy the viewer’s desire to live in an idealistic nature when people see them. In this way, the old theories of landscapes have asked us to impose human romance to shape nature. And I thought that could be an imperialistic way of thinking and an attitude to be aware of nature as a tool. I decided to draw ‘not nice’ landscapes for humans. My paintings have lots of drawing lines. They are very far from the romance of old landscapes. They are complicated and seem like mazes and have nowhere people can rest. There are not any things for humans like houses or bridges. I set that direction for my work like this and I faced a turning point.
Your works remind of words like ‘bubblebubble’,’blupblup’. It looks like peaks repeatedly generate and end in an endless space. Some parts have black holes too. It is a weird space that doesn’t have a single person. What were you trying to express?
As mentioned earlier, my work intends not to follow the existing rules of landscapes. They realize unpleasant landscapes for the human. Nature is a great existence that has the vitality of beginning. It constantly circulates itself. I tried to express that vitality with lines. The lines overlapped and repeatedly snapped and connected. It could make an image that seems to repeatedly generate and end. The blackhole you mentioned is a cave. A fishman got lost and found a cave. He went into the cave and there was a beautiful paradise. You probably heard this famous folktale. It is <도화원기> of Do Won Myoung. From a long time ago, people have dreamed of this paradise somewhere. <도화원기> It is a story that shows people’s wishes well. But I think that is only an unnatural demand of nature. I drew a dark cave, mountains that look like mazes and dark air. I wanted to express that there is no paradise and what human want from nature is only an illusion for them.
How do you want people to think about your works?
It’s up to viewers how to think about my artwork after they are displayed. I haven’t thought in detail about how I want people to take my work. (I hope they like my work for sure. That’s not only me but every artist!) I am more like willing to ask how viewers enjoyed my work and listen to their various opinions. I am most happy when peoples think I have my own narrative and style, throughout all of my work I even tried to make different images and use different methods.
What are your next plans?
I am going to dig into the relationship between nature and humans. I am going to make art about human investment in nature or hidden things on the dark side of engineered nature. It will be about the tourist industry, also about Jeju too. But it won’t be only Jeju. I will collect lots of data and work on them widely. I wouldn’t be restricted to oriental painting only. I want to try many kind of painting styles like installations or image works. I like to enjoy my work for a long time just like how I have been doing.