Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I was born in Seoul, South Korea and recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in BA Fine Art. As I came to study art straight after high school, I believe it makes more sense to consider myself a London-based artist at the moment. My practice has changed a lot since studying in London, as there were much bigger opportunities to access workshops and galleries. I’d describe myself is multi-disciplined artist, but the most recent works were sculptures which were mainly done in casting workshop – requiring a high level of labour and, in the end, I was somehow known as a professional human sander. Linking to my inspiration, I find casting pretty much the same as baking in terms of process – mixing powders with liquid, pouring into the mould, tapping to get rid of bubbles, leaving them to set (heats up itself usually), and if needed, shape them up! So for some reason, I have wanted to try smell or taste things in the workshop–even though I was aware of they can be very harmful.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
If to mention the real first time, that was around 11, and the practice has changed a lot of course. So to specifically talk about when I really wanted to make tantalising sculptures, it was once I began to use resin, and when I re-downloaded Instagram for different use. I had totally forgotten that I was so into translucent or transparent objects as well as colourful artworks, which probably was hidden under the pressure of ‘I need to focus on concepts, research rather than think about how the artworks look.’
But since I started to physically create objects, going through all the process of sanding and polishing, I then found the beauty of the material, and began to link up with my sweets fantasy that I’ve always had. Also probably that I was surrounded by other sculptors, which caused me to dig into trying different methods. About Instagram, I did miss all the coffee places in Seoul, so started to search hashtags – then found a thing called ‘home cafe’ where individuals making and filming their own creative and tasty looking drinks or desserts – I’d say ‘a visual version of ASMR’, that’s how much it was addictive and good to watch or look into. And then the mixture of these two is the outcome of my recent project.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Most of the visual references come from Instagram. I follow many patisseries, chefs, and cafe accounts, and like to go through the interior design hashtags in my free time. I believe Instagram is the biggest platform of how things can be attracted visually that there are some photographers mainly working with social media posts. Although I am not trying to speak up a voice about contemporary social media usage or something, I usually enjoy using the updated features most times unless there is a serious reason to boycott from my point of view. Trying to stay up-to-date I guess! Also, personally think connecting with international audiences is very important, especially when I will be away for a bit from London, I can still be in contact with people here and there.
Anyways, all the joyfulness coming from sharing aesthetics should be the strongest point that I am wanting to show through my works.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
Not just in working in the studio, but also to be able to make the ‘art’ vibe, I always have a nice cake with a cup of coffee or tea. Even before I started to make works relating to the beauty of desserts, it was part of my lifestyle already, so nowadays, it impacts me even more strongly. Or I sit down and check all the patisserie hashtags, save the ones I really like, or ones which are new but interesting enough.
If it’s preparing for sanding works or using machine works, I listen to fast pace, cheerful music like K-pop, it actually does help me a lot to bring all the happy viruses!
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
For me, it definitely was a big impact on my art practice even though I only have graduated from an undergraduate degree. I think the main reason is that it wasn’t my home country and the curriculum is so much different from Seoul as far as I know. Also, since I had a positive experience, am highly considering applying for MFA degree at some point in my life after having more experience in the real art world, partly because I want to live in a different country that also to gives me chances to meet a wider range of experienced artists.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
This is more of what encouraged me to continue the current practice. During the degree show time, one of the visitors said beautiful words to me, “Your works made me happy! 🙂 Thank you for this!” It actually was the best thing to hear. She seemed to be properly interpreting the works, asking me questions, and I could feel that she really was happy being around the installation. It may sound silly, but I always scream silently and have a little dance move sometimes while polishing or finishing the sculptures, and that the fact that I could share this excitement with the viewer who doesn’t know this part of me (screaming and dancing) was an amazing feeling.
What are you working on right now?
Since I have recently graduated as well as am going back to my hometown – Seoul – soon, I have been more focusing on drawings and paintings as a part of a research process for sculptures. Going to the recent show at White Cube Bermondsey triggered the interest of still-life paintings more, alongside realising that it should be a good observational practice, so I am currently doing more textural research from online and in real life, throughout the paintings.
Once I go back home, I will for sure start to bring back the casting practice, but may start from the basics like making samples of different materials, partly because it is nearly impossible to use Jesmonite – which I only have been started to use a lot recently, and also there should be some other new media.