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Artist Statement
Three keywords of my works are “mediated nature”, “human beings tamed by consumerism”, and “foreign labels”.
First, my works are about how my generation, who was born and raised in big cities, experience nature. We rarely experience it in person, but mediated through edited designs and consumer products and patterns. I realized this when I was sitting in a café, looking at a can of ‘Arizona green tea’ I was drinking. I started thinking “Have I ever seen red plum blossoms in full that look like what is represented on the can?” Of course not. In many cases we don’t see objects of nature such as plumb blossoms in real life. But still their images are very familiar because we see it on package designs every day. Then more questions of the similar kind followed: “Have I ever seen grace white anemones in life?” The answer was “No….but I saw them on cushion covers or champagne bottles.” Maybe most of the people of my generation are not different. We experience nature, mediated through a lot of commodities distributed in big cities.
I am particularly interested in fancy labels of water and beverages. Interestingly, they are everyday necessities but are commercialized, beautifully wrapped up in fancy logos and brand names. My experience of plum blossoms comes through the illustration on ‘Arizona green tea’ cans. My experience of anemones comes through the design of ‘Perrier Jouet’ bottles. My experience of mountains or waterfalls comes through the picture on ‘Cloudy bay’ wine bottles and ‘Fiji water’ bottles. In other words, I am housebroken to the city-oriented consumer culture. Sightseers who appear in ‘Looking at waterfalls’ or the little pets in other paintings are symbols of myself.
In addition, I’m making comment on foreign labels. Korean market is huge and very international. I can see water or beverages with foreign labels like ‘Evian’ in regular groceries in Seoul. There are vending machines that sell ‘Vitamin water’ in the campus of Seoul National University, my alma mater. In a way, foreign labels have been an inseparable part of my life.
Last, I use materials and techniques of traditional eastern painting: lines and compositions of landscape, detailed brushwork for painting animals, and leaving the background empty to give the whole work a breathing space. An important point in my work is that it has the philosophy of modern art and expression techniques of eastern tradition at the same time.

By Shinhye Kim
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