Interview with Kwon Kyungyup

// //

Three years ago, I discovered Korean artist Kwon Kyungyup's work and I was amazed with her realistic paintings and the emotions depicted in her work. Today, it is an honor to present my interview with Kwon Kyungyup. In our interview, Kwon shared insights on her paintings, passion for movies, thoughts on creativity, and more. Enjoy!

When did you start painting?

I have been in love with drawing ever since i was a child. I used to draw comic book heroes and my favorite TV animation heroes. At the age of 5, I was enrolled in a private art school, I started to draw anything around me and also learned a variety of things about art. I really love to draw so I always try to be more familiar with arts and pictures. In 2005, I started painting and that is what I do now.

What is the important thing to you when working on a project?

The primal themes of my art are ego, women, and human body as well as their deficiency. I try to have my own time alone whenever i start a new work. 
I recall some events that occurred in the past that made me feel lonely.

What is your creation process like for your paintings and what average time do you spend on a painting?

My painting process, I make a draft, then paint it on canvas with oil. I work with a very slow breathing as though I am meditating. Oil paintings dry slower than other paintings, so it takes me a month or two to complete my work. I enjoy observing the progress of my work and also like paintings made with great effort for a long period. Oil paintings are appropriate to depict abundant colors of the skin. They are also excellent materials to adjust degrees of gloss and transparency. 

I emphasize a pale skin tone and bloodshot eyes. Through an unrealistic figure of a girl with pale skin standing at the boundary between life and death, I depict the will to overcome trauma and cure along with and the shadow of death that wants to give up a life due to pains. That being said, I try to approach the overall human life by metaphorically depicting a causal relationship between Eros and Thanatos. I would love to be a master artisan but for now I am an artist.

Your paintings are very emotional and full of expressions. What do you try to communicate through your paintings?

I try to depict the memory that infinitely dies away when trying to catch. 
Although it is too vivid and 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 that are hard to bear by covering them with an expressionless face. With unrealistic figures, I draw obsession with the past, alienation, anxiety, and wound from memories that coexist. However, I experienced something mysterious, my internal wounds cured while drawing pictures of wounds. The weight of bandage decreased and i remember the wounds that lost their colors as beautiful memories. 

I take out my memories without the 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 trying 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.

Most exciting project so far?

“OPEN STUDIO” was one of the most exciting projects for me. I did it with artists who work in Jang-Heung Atelier. We also had a group exhibition. The project was really special because i had the time to communicate with people who appreciate my paintings and we also showed the process of how we make our paintings. 

Besides painting what else are you passionate about?

I love watching movies. My favorites are "Perfume" and "Benjamin Button"
Perfume is based on Patrick Suskind’s novel and is a story about a boy born with a superior olfactory sense. The film's motive of aestheticism and the fact that man-made law or morals lose their values when we meet a creation of extreme beauty really attracted my attention.

"Benjamin Button" also is a story of a man who started aging backwards with bizarre consequences. I was drawn into it because i can see the attachment to youth, an insight into death, and the paradox of youth all in one movie.

Favorite spot in Seoul?

Sam-cheong dong. There are a lot of fabulous galleries and traditional houses.

What does Creativity mean to you?

Creativity for me, is a different thing from yesterday.

What do you like most to do?

Cleaning my place.

Kwon Kyungyup: Webpage Instagram