Sep. Issue| No. 67| Artist by Artistry
When people think about Hanbok, a
traditional Korean outfit, they have certain expectations. Hyunjung Kim
deliberately defies those expectations by painting a picture that shows Hanbok
in an unstressed everyday-life manner. Responsible for an ironically even
lovelier look is probably the designer's own persona, a modern Korean woman who
enjoys shopping and can't live without her phone. Eloquence met the young,
witty artist for an insightful chat.
Hanbok elements play a
significant role in your work. How did that come about?
The most important
function of the hanbok is to highlight 'the impact of common expectations'. The
series Feign started with my personal thoughts about false assumptions and
people who act differently on the inside and the outside, and I'm slowly
developing that into a more personal confession and a general statement
undermining stereotypes. The works depict delicate garments that are usually
worn to festive occasions, in rather atypical, often humorous situations, as
well as in combination with modern items that take away the entitlement to
judge. These contrasts are, of course, present in other outfits, but I really
do pattern and accessories of the Korean hanbok. Those unique attributes are
more than enough to spark my expressiveness as an artist.
Your paintings often
depict women’s two-sideness. Is there something being ‘feigned’ there?
If you look up
the word ‘feign’ it will say something like, ‘acting shy on
the outside, but really being deceptive.’ But, as you
can see in your question, most people will naturally associate the word ‘feign’ with the picture of a woman, even
though it is, of course free of gender. While I do agree that it is an
expression that in our society suits a woman better than a man, I don’t think that it is an exclusively female characteristic. I think
that it is a rather common social urge of people to gain confirmation from one
another and hide personal weaknesses that result in ‘discordance;.
Sometimes it appears almost instinctively, but I also believe that people will
sacrifice part of their own selves, their own identities for social
convenience. While I planned Feign as an expression of dissatisfaction with
pretentious people and a desire for pictorial expression, it has now become a
psychological and philosophical topic for me.
The pieces that show
nude body parts underneath the hanbok are particularly memorable. They could be
I often think
that women have to hide their inherent desires and true nature more than men.
As mentioned before, I think that pretention is more connected to women and
frankly, I think that it is reality. There’s a part of me that chose to draw women
because I’ve experienced such things first-hand.
However, the nudity is there to express that people wear clothes only to adorn
themselves, to show that they have a clean core. It’s a
very important element. The viewer can see through the half transparent textile
the essence of the person, and the silhouettes to indicate the character’s possibility to reach that core. Seen from the ‘female’s essential core’ in my paintings, could one really think I was sending a sexual
The Feign series is
fairly well known, but what other works have you previously done?
The Feign series
can be seen entirely as a study of my own personality. Before that I was
preparing for that process of searching. I,E, my own version of The Thinker.
When I was in that self-defining of elements of Korean beauty make me nod along
to his insightful explanations. I would like to take our art, our hanboks and
hanji (Korean traditional paper) and present their subtle beauty proudly all
over the world. And Takashi Murakmi is an artist whose works have taught me
that art can coexist with capitalistic industrialization and still be a part of
our everyday lives. One of my dream is to see art being as much a part of
life as music, to see it being a base for joy that anybody can easily pick up.
He showed me that art can become a way to nestle on industrialized territory.
It seems as if one can
see your own lifestyle depicted in your works. What kind of person are you?
That’s something I would
completely leave up to the spectator. I actually like shopping and very lively
things, but on the other hand I enjoy being by myself and like any other artist
I am a rather emotional person This might be the right time to unburden myself – as a girl who likes lively things – from something I’d like to say about
the expression ‘drawing (spoiled) girl.’ I think that it is denigrating and suppressing women’s hopes of a bright and vivid life. Everybody has those desires, not
just women. I would like to see more confidence and acceptance of people’s tastes and preferences. That’s one of the
things I realized about myself during my working process.
What kind of artist
would like to be come?
I would like to
be an artist who scratches people where it itches. I usually answer this
question with, ‘artists are people who express other people’
desires’. Artists are more sensitive and emotionally
charged than other people. They are able to express what others might not be
able to understand in the first place or issues they can identify with but don’t know how to let out. Artists are professional. I try to be a
sensitive, worldly person, interactive and keen on life.
Copyright ⓒ By 한국화가 김현정
All pictures Cannot be copied without permission.