I absolutely adore recent BFA graduate Won Seok Chang’s electric and disconcerting paintings that reflect a sense of anxiety and crisis. Originally from South Korea, where North and South Korean tensions are constant, in addition to the global political climate, this work is timely and full of tension. Make sure to check out more at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am from South Korea, recently I am working in Philadelphia. I just earned my BFA from The University of the Arts, in 2018, in the Fine Art Department: Painting and Drawing. I create strange, ambiguous, mysterious paintings.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
Like normal kids, I started art as copying my favorite cartoons. I was not thinking about art seriously before I went to military service in South Korea. During that, I felt I need to create something to express and find who I was, because I felt really bad under controls (military) and sick of political things (there are a lot of things between North and South Korea). After I was discharged from military service, I came to the United States to learn art and culture and being an artist.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Just a few weeks ago, I started South Korea history (1890-1990), because I want to know history of Korea before I born, because it helps to understand who I am and how my identity with historic back ground and nationality are built in a roundabout way. Also, I am interested in humanity and human right and race and sex as an international person.
What is your process like?
First of all, I collect images as much as I can, based on what I see and experience. And then I do collage with Photoshop tools. I try to make strange and ambiguous images that reflect my experiences and attitude toward real life. Finally, I am using hybrid images that I create with Photoshop as an reference for painting. But the images that I make would be changed during painting.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My art progress and practice are influenced by Eric Fischl, the American figurative painter. I took his workshop for a week, when I was junior at The University of Arts. It was a big turning point of my painting. He showed us how he builds and uses images to paint.
What is your studio like?
After I graduated, I had some problems with my financial statement. Therefore, I am working in my bathroom, it is pretty small and tight. but no problem with keep making arts.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
It is happened recently, no money, no space, no interesting. Since I graduated, I have gotten a lot of rejections from galleries, art studios and art magazines. However, it makes me humble and motivated to work hard. I just try to be positive and motivate myself. Until a couple of weeks ago, I was very depressed and frustrated.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Ambiguous, ironic and strange
What are you working on right now?
Anything else you would like to add?
Through my experiences in Korea and the United States, I became interested in creating harmony and balance between images, objects, spaces and colors that are in contradiction. Therefore, the narrative I create with hybrid images comes from combining found images of different times and places into harmonious compositions, a reverie with a mysterious discordance. The narrative in my paintings relate to my experiences and emotions that I feel in real life; I try to embody reality while falling into reverie. The images, spaces and colors serve to develop my visual experience into a complex personal language. The complex language radiates an ambiguous feeling and attitude towards the world that I live in.