Chun Mi-Jin, South Korean born artist, who currently lives in Genoa, Italy, has a background majoring in painting in Korea. After studying Fine Art at Hong-ik University, Seoul, South Korea, she flew to Germany and continued to study architecture at the German University of Stuttgart and worked as an architect in Germany. After ten years living in Germany, then she moved to Italy with her family where she is now focusing on three-dimensional works and paintings. Her work (Con-creARte) has been exhibited at SaloneSatellite in Milan, Italy and published in various magazines.
With this multicultural background, she focuses on architectural fine art and pictorial spatiality. The important elements in her work are unconscious space, form and color. Chun expresses architectural structural geometric forms and free, accidental and spontaneous expression techniques of painting on canvas at the same time. Combinations of contrast and contradictory perspectives, she drives to create new relationships and artistic values.
1. Do you consider yourself as an emerging artist in contemporary art ?
Chun Mi-Jin : Well… That’s a very interesting question. I had been working in the field of architecture for a long time, then only recently I have been painting again. As it has only been a while since my new artwork, I can say I’m a rookie, but I can’t call myself as a rising start. I am ready to show more.
2. How would you describe your style ?
Chun Mi-Jin : My style is transparent, mysterious, delicate, intense, structured and glamorous. And it’s spatial.
3. Tell us about your experience…
Chun Mi-Jin : I originally came from South Korea, studied in painting at Hongik University, Seoul. After my graduation, I went to Germany to study a new field and admitted to the architecture school at the Kunst Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. After completing the Diploma, I worked at a German architecture firm. Since I have married, I moved to Italy to live as a mother of two beautiful children. As I did not wish to work in an organisation any longer, I personally presented my art furniture, Concrete Art, at Satelite at the Milan Design Fair. I had wanted to work on a bigger scale, however, with the COVID 19 pandamic situation, everything had to stop abruptly, I picked up a brush and started painting again. I believe the crisis generated another opportunity. At a time when everything was secluded and isolated all around the world, I decided to listen to my inner voice. I want to express something inside of me in a way that I am good at.
4. What led you to painting ?
Chun Mi-Jin : I am looking for a metaphysical medium that releases my inner energy. They are not perfect when they are expressed in any spoken or written form in my perspective. However, it is so beautiful and mysterious to use material tools to produce metaphysical and abstract forms. Such synergy effect is the energy of my life.
5. Does your South-Korean roots influence your vision of nature ?
Chun Mi-Jin : Of course. The scent of my hometown where I was born and raised, the texture of the wind, and the sunlight are still vividly remembered even though it has been 19 years since I left my home country. The Korean culture and their unique emotional aspects are very important factors of my work. I try to reflect the beauty of Korea’s colour, especially the soft, elegant, natural, and solid Korean artworks that are not flashy. In particular, I get a lot of inspiration from the colours of Hanbok, the traditional Korean clothing, and the structural beauty of old buildings.
6. Do you remember your first souvenir with art ?
Chun Mi-Jin : When I studied painting in my middle school, an art teacher who majored in ceramics gave me a ceramic necklace which was made by herself. The brilliant colour and the material of the ceramic necklace, which was coloured by melting glass of ceramic, is still vividly remembered. I still keep it at home. Its transparent but hardness of the glazing glass-ceramic is so mesmerizing. This artistic experiences during my youth seem to be reflected in my current work elements.
7. Which artists inspire you ?
Chun Mi-Jin : Contemporary artists such as William De Kooning, James Turrell, Katarina Grosse, Julie Mehretu, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Park Seo-Bo and classical artists including Monet and Chagall, are those who inspire me most. On top of this, classical and modern architecture, nature documentaries, and classical music also give much influence to my artworks.
8. What mission do you paint ?
Chun Mi-Jin : I would like to show the shape of emotion. Recording human emotions, sublimating them into a form, and showing them as an artwork. It is so-called ‘Record feeling’. Also I want to show how it affects people and would like to investigate the form of emotion. It is not easy to express things that cannot be seen and cannot be grasped, but the journey of finding its answer is very fascinating.
9. Your work is mesmerising, what do you think ?
Chun Mi-Jin : I am so glad to hear that there are those who like my work. Artists usually spend most of their time alone in the studio in solitude, intensely immersed in the work or doing research for the next project. Sometimes, these times make them very lonely and difficult to cope with. But it’s definitely worth it.
When the artwork comes out from these hardships and the outcome is at satisfactory level, I am all over the moon. Besides, having audience who appreciates and acknowledges my work would be the happiest thing in my life.
10. What would you like to pass on to the future generations ?
Chun Mi-Jin : I would like to say that the next future generation should move their eyes away from the frame of smartphone. As younger generation spend their time a lot on their mobile phones, I would like to deliver this message to teenagers and people in their twenties, especially at a time when their sensitivity is being developed. I would like to say to focus on the present with five senses to enjoy the world and to listen to the sounds and echoes of the nature and the people around you. Also, I would like people to listen to their inner voice and cherish the present moment. This is the message that I would like to convey.
11. How did you first begin to develop your unique style ?
Chun Mi-Jin : I have been thinking an idea for a long time, in order to express the after-images of my memories in space and to show condensed emotions on the canvas. These emotions are very complex, nuanced, heterogeneous, contradictory, yet implicit. In the meaning of overlapping multiple emotions, the colours and shapes are layered on top of each other. The beauty of overlapping was inspired by drawing architectural drawings by hand on tracing paper. This is the starting point of starting my current work, which I did by overlapping, tearing, and pasting using various colours instead of single-colour pens. This architectural thinking always gives me a lot of inspiration so that I can try new things.
12. What can you tell us about your painting process ?
Chun Mi-Jin : First, I prepare a canvas and clear my mind while listening to my favorite music. I usually listen to classical and jazz music. I try to start my work with good spirit. Whenever I see a new white canvas, I have a mixed feeling which combines excitement and calmness, I believe any artist would feel in a same way though. I prefer to work with water-soluble paints. It fits well with my tendencies. With a couple of deep breath in front of my canvas, I start to work on colour. Sometimes, I start to draw a few small drawings or try to make small objects beforehand. These motifs lead to my canvas works. While I work on my project, in many cases, there are many changes coincidentally. This accidental expression can change the atmosphere or form of colour. These accidental effects make my work richer. I want to maximize the synergy effect that occurs when the improvisation and the original idea meet.
13. What are your favourite tools and materials for working ?
Chun Mi-Jin : My favourite ingredient is water. I like to use materials which is related to water. In general, water-soluble paints and materials are mostly used in my work. As I live close to the beach, I get interesting ingredients from the beach, such as round shaped sea stones from the Tiguglio sea which are carved by the waves and tree branches that have been floated into the water from afar. Drawing with these natural materials gives me good energy in my work, which makes me mentally rich and care free.
14. As an artist, what is your vision of the world ?
Chun Mi-Jin : My vision is to provide viewers how to approach their lives meaningfully through my artwork. Also, I wish my appreciator to have an insightful point of view on their lives through artistic contemplation.
15. What’s your relashionship with colour & space ?
Chun Mi-Jin : In my work, colour is a medium that captures the various emotions of a space. The memory of emotions experienced in space is expressed through colour, and the formativeness that appears in the mind and unconscious maximizes the mystery of abstract forms along with colour. I use various methods to express better these mysterious abstract forms, but these days, I am expressing perspective and space by superimposing thin and soft colours and making complementary colours intertwined and mixed with each other. If you keep looking, the colors are connected to each other like a Möbius strip, so you can’t tell where it starts and ends. This plays an important role in bringing out the rich emotions of the viewer through the sense of space of colour.
16. What are your future projects ?
Chun Mi-Jin : In the short term, I am preparing for a group exhibition in Milan this year. And I plan to hold a solo exhibition in two years. Starting in the fall, I am preparing for a new three-dimensional work. As I majored in architecture, I plan to expand the scale and combine it with painting. And I wish my works to be invited to the Venice Biennale and showcase my work in the Korean National Pavilion. I hope that one day it will come soon.