I simply adore these paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Hye-Shin Chun, who was preparing to move from New Jersey when we had this Q&A! Make sure to check out more of her work at the links below!
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I'd love to know a bit about you! Can you introduce yourself?
Hello. I am a painter from Seoul, South Korea. Currently, I live and work in New Jersey.
I am moving to Los Angeles with my husband and my 2-year old daughter this August. It is a big change, but I am very excited to start this new chapter in my life as I am planning to find a studio there that I can work more productively in. I moved out of my studio in Brooklyn that I had in 2015 after having my daughter and currently work at home.
When did you first discover or become interested in art? Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue making it?
When I was in first grade, I made a big drawing of a robot for a school project. I’m still not sure exactly why, but I had a lot of fun with that project - I was really in that moment of coloring each part of the robot. I think that’s when I realized that I really enjoy drawing and painting. I am probably the most enthusiastic and energetic when I’m making art.
What has your art education been like, whether formally or informally?
I studied BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I initially wanted to focus on drawing and painting, but the school really encouraged me to explore with other materials in making art. I took a lot of classes in printmaking where I learned to utilize and invent other materials and techniques. I started with etching and screen printing, then I shifted to monoprints, but eventually I came back to drawing and painting as I realized that I wanted to do something more immediate and direct, something that came right out of my hands.
How would you describe your practice?
Home has been the main inspiration for me, as I spend most of my time doing housework as a wife and a mother. I collect moments at home that interest me, usually of something domestic; arrangements of objects and persons and the details of the motifs such as colors, patterns, and/or textures. I record these moments consciously by taking photographs, taking notes, or making sketches, and some unconsciously by imprinting them in my mind.
I would like to make works that although are simple, have life and vigor due to the evident touches of my hand. Greatly influence by works of Henri Matisse, Milton Avery, Édouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard, I want to make works that appears to be free and effortless, but still has depth where each strokes on the canvas matter.
What is your process like?
I work at multiple paintings at once. I work on one painting for a while, and then switch to another painting. It takes about two to three sessions before I finish a painting, spending about an hour or more each time. There is a lot of staring, but I also try to spend time away from the works to refresh my approach. I enjoy responding to the painting as it builds up, as marks and forms from my brushstrokes become something else and give me new ideas. Textures and colors also play important roles as they can breathe life into the works. I look for textures that make the mark-making energetic and that make my hands move with a certain flow and rhythm. I also enjoy finding colors that vibrate and sing together when they are next to each other.
What is your studio or workspace like?
Currently, I work at a small den in my home. It is not big, but I am happy to have space to make work.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you in the mode to create?
My studio hours start at around 9 in the morning, right after I drop off my daughter at her school. As my studio is at home, I clean up the house a little bit, change into my work clothes, get a cup of coffee, take a sit, and then I start by staring at my paintings for a while.
Do you have a favorite mantra, quote, or piece of advice you rely on when you're working?
Be in the moment, trust yourself, and just make it work.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
Never giving up, and constantly working at all odds.
What is or has been the most challenging or daunting aspect of pursuing art?
Time has been always an issue for me. As I can only work while my 2-year old daughter is at school from 9 am to 3 pm, I try to be as efficient as possible, trying to focus in that given time frame. I try not to get distracted, especially in the morning studio time as that is when I am most productive. I try to stay away from my computer and cell phone.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on several paintings that have forms of symmetrical structures. I am trying to see if I can breathe life into into these imageries with painting, playing more with dryness, wetness, thinness, and thickness of the paint. I am interested in finding out what paint can do as each different marks react to one another. Can it make something symmetrical, something that looks sturdy and fixed, move and float in the air?
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