[ZOOM KOREA] Artist puts modern spin on traditional art
Kim started drawing at eight, when she began attending an art academy. Her parents, who knew she had artistic skills, gave her unconditional support to pursue her interests. Kim says she is who she is today thanks to her parents’ trust and support.
The reason she majored in Korean painting dates back to her second year at Sunhwa Arts High School. She was left speechless when she first gripped her brush and drew a stroke of diluted ink - the soft and comfortable feeling immediately attracted her to traditional ink wash painting. Her passion for painting grew with every stroke she made.
Kim was also inspired by the book “Special Lecture on Korean Paintings” written by Oh Ju-seok. The portrayal of Korean painting aesthetics, the wit and sincerity expressed in old paintings, and the delicate use of brush strokes made her fall in love with the art form.
In Kim’s collection of artworks entitled “Coy Story,” she depicts a series of Korean women wearing hanbok, or Korean traditional dress, who, contrary to what their attire suggests, behave in a free-spirited manner - one of them drives a motorbike, and another eats noodles while sitting on the floor.
All of the characters in her drawings are, in fact, self-portraits. Kim originally painted characters whose outer appearances were different from their inner selves in a humorous manner. But she eventually realized the portraits resembled herself, so she began drawing more honest portraits.
Kim’s Coy Story series, also dubbed “21st-century genre art,” was a huge hit and each work was quickly sold. Art critics referred to her works as “bold” and praised her for her fresh ideas and unique painting style. She is also considered a rising star of the era thanks to her modern reinterpretations of traditional painting. In 2017, she was included in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia, a list of the most influential people in Asia, for her mesmerizing “Korean-influenced artwork.”
Kim majored in Oriental Painting and Business Management at Seoul National University. She was nervous about the idea that “artists are always hungry.” She wanted to study market structures in order to figure out why artists lived economically unstable lives. In order to solve the problem, she thought knowledge in business management would be useful for future exhibit planning, collaborations and other artistic projects.
Kim believes that communicating with the public is also very important. She actively uses Instagram, Naver blogs, YouTube and Twitter to communicate with around 100,000 followers. According to Kim, artists are the spokespeople of the public - without knowing how the public feels, artists would be unable to produce good work.
Kim hopes people remember her as “an artist who reinterprets Korean elements in a pleasant, modern way.”
Famous artists are usually characterized by their own unique style. Examples include great Western artists, such as Picasso and van Gogh, or traditional Korean artists, such as Kim Hong-do and Sin Yun-bok. Kim Hyun-jung wants to be known as an artist with her own distinct style.
BY PARK SANG-MOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]