Kwon Kyung-yup is a Korean painter who creates stark, delicate portraits of exquisite loneliness. She’s a graduate of Sejong University in Korea, and her paintings process begins by taking photographs first; this captures all the details and expressions. She then makes a draft of the photo and paints it on canvas with oil. The protagonists of her paintings are bandaged girls. WIth her upcoming shows in 2014 I sit down with her to discuss her creative process, films, and more! Read below for the full Q&A…
Has your process of painting, where you start by references photos, changed at all through the years?
In the process of my painting, I make a draft, then paint it on canvas with oil. Sometimes I take photos for realistic depictions. Imaginary realism emerges through this process, by overlapping the reality through photos with my imaginary touch.
You have a print run on 1xRun. How did that partnership come about and how beneficial is it to sell prints as an artist?
1XRun suggested me to cooperate with them. I expect art lovers who find it hard to buy originals may get an opportunity to buy prints and enjoy the arts.
Your work has a frosty, white color palette. Why do you gravitate towards these color choices?
White is the color of pureness, self-extinction, and transcendence. In the oblivion series, the world of oblivion was depicted as images of white color. If memories can be called as a warm place, oblivion would be a very cold place; that is why oblivion was drawn as the image of winter. In the winter of 2010, heavy snow fell in the central district of South Korea. The view of town covered with snow looked like a cold world of oblivion that everything disappeared. I also wanted to materialize the elegant curves and delicate figures of Joseon baekja (white porcelain) through a human body: I applied its elegant and neat beatify to expressing human bodies.
And their wary expressions…could you elaborate a bit on that? Do your paintings harbor pain?
(I work with a very slow breathing as though I am meditating. Oil paintings dry slower than other paintings, so it takes me a long time to complete my work. I enjoy observing the progress of my work and also like paintings made with great effort for a long period.) I try to depict the memory that infinitely dies away when trying to catch. Although it is feels catch-able, I express the feeling when recalling a specific moment in the past. Such as depicting the moment of being lost in memories of time in the past, and the figure that internalized the sadness and longing them with an expressionless face.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Christmas in August.
Do you prefer to draw the female body compared to the male? If so, can you give reasons?
I prefer to draw the subject of woman. Maybe this is derived from my big interest in woman and as you know, I’m a woman, too. Female figure has been subject for many artists since a long time ago. For me Female figure is like a balancing point for one’s awareness and feeling.
Over the years, how has your work helped you explore human frailty and resilience?
My painting reflects my personal stories, but at the same time, it is like a portrait of our generation struggling to overcome their personal suffering. It is, in fact, interesting for me to express love, pain, isolation, feelings through human face and body parts.
In the unrealistic figures I draw, obsession with the past, alienation, anxiety, and wound from memories coexist. However, I could be able to remember the wounds that lost their colors as beautiful memories. I take out my memories without feeling of frustration, and I freeze the memories in a shape of oblivion by sending them to a very cold area. For me, canvas is the space I depict my longing, the space of thoughts, and the space that sadness, purity, and fantasy are depicted. Life is sometimes the same as to scout around for one’s lost idea. The desire that moves our lives tries to search something that is missing from reality. However, a new desire is created when we fill up the deficiency of something. It could be that the stuff we put to fill up our deficiency was not an actual thing we desired; it would be fantasy that could be just substituted for the deficiency.
Any future plans for a solo show or group exhibit in 2014?
I am preparing my 6th 2014 solo exhibition. It will be held in Zaha Museum, Seoul in June.
Lastly, any advice for any creative out there?
I believe that artists should speak about the most desperate and desirable issues for humanity.
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