Art and painting come to life in different forms and bodies. They are the products of the artist however beneath the white canvas, there is more than “a painting”. It gives the perspective of the artists and their world vision, bridge the unspoken realities of the Earth and societies with touches of the artists’ messages. Paintings are versatile platforms to reach humans and its evolution continues with every vibrant movement.
Hur Kyung-Ae is one of the contemporary artists, gaining attention by art community through reflections of her world via carving acrylic layers. She was born in 1977, Gwang-Ju, South Korea and currently works in France at her studio named Art Works Paris Seoul Gallery. Her passion of painting comes from the early ages, and after recognition of her talent through painting followed by becoming an independent contemporary artist. She moved to Paris in 2003 to continue for artistic education after obtaining two fine art degrees in Korea. Her art is consisted of the inspiration of carving the canvas with sharp blades, as she discovered her techniques a s new vision and sense of well-being. This process as she describes is “meditative and aggressive” which creates an “awakening” in her soul. After her first solo exhibit in 2011 (Paris) she continues her art in Europe and Asia. She is the younger generation of the “Dansaekhwa-Korean Monochrome Painting” movement, and she is gaining international attention by her groundbreaking vision to painting.
I have met with her over a coincidence while my first travel to Paris. I was walking down in the streets of Paris by the side of River Seine. That was a pictorial moment for me because of all the subconscious layers we put our brain about Paris throughout the time. However, our brain tends to capture the familiar things, which in my story, I saw her name on a window of a small art gallery and I rushed to the exhibition hall. Since then, I am a follower of her art works and inspired by her vision which tries to reflect lifelines and layers of human living.
Q: We met with each other over a beautiful coincidence. It was in 2018, May. Until that “petite” exhibit, can you describe your path through art and painting?
A: The exhibition we met was « The Color Revealed »/ (La couleur révélée). Since I was a child, I have been fond of drawing, and I have always lived with art and raised my dream to become an artist. I naturally entered an art college, and after graduating from Korea, I came to study in France, which is rich in culture, to see more on the world stage. After graduating from the French art school, I participated in many exhibitions. People who saw my work in art galleries offered to work together, since then I have been actively working in the European art market.
Q: You are originally from Korea but living in France. As a person aware of Korean culture, what were the remarkable moments for you in France considering living and adaptations?
A: As a Korean, I study in Paris, and I remember the time I spent studying and interacting with friends of various nationalities. Living in a different country of culture is like another travel, and I understand that every moment is different, and because it is different, my own energy seems to radiate more.
Q: Your art has a vibrant movement. It is layer by layer by various colors? Do these layers correspond to something?
A: The layers I present on my canvas are the accumulation of the artist’s time and is the layer of traces of images and memories.
Q: What was your influences and inspirations for your paintings? They are quite original. In every painting you have a similar pattern yet very diverse feeling when you zoom in.
A: As a person sensitive to the colors, I always think carefully about the energy they give. Personally, I like the autumn mountains in Korea. I am often inspired by nature. I like the materials giving inspirations and things to work with, and it is a work that scrapes and dismantles the image of a painting while touching paintings and prints, and again, this is a time and process that destroys all my time. Since painting is an impression that goes beyond text, I propose to meet the forest of various colors in my work.
Q: How do you start a new painting? Do you have any kind of rituals you follow?
A: I always have anticipation in front of the new canvas and meditate on how to end it. In that meditation, I start by organizing the stories that will unfold in my mind and writing down what colors to accumulate on paper. The white canvas is my own playground.
Q: In contemporary art, it may be challenging to execute and portray your opinions and missions. What was the greatest challenge for you to solidify your place in art business?
A: When I work on painting, I tend to focus on my inner world. Sometimes there are creations that the unconscious brings, but there are times when a certain set of specifications is in effect. I enjoy the work of the results of the dismantling of paintings, and sometimes the disassembled picture image feels like I am dismantling myself. Every time a new work is completed, I get a sense of challenge. I can always do community with people in front of my work.
Q: Your work is not only panting but also carving. The acrylic layers and later carving require extensive physical efforts which may bring some working safety problems. Are you taking any safety precautions, did you have any accidents throughout your career?
A: Fortunately, there have been no accidents so far, and if you work in the studio, there will be unexpected things. In my case, I work with a knife, so I wear gloves on my hands every time I use them, and I change my work clothes and shoes depending on the tools. Since it is a work of scratching the thick layer of paint, I tend to be careful every time I touch the tools.
Q: I wonder, how pandemic affected your artworks and atelier studies? I know besides your individual movements; you also have your own studio and teaching art and painting.
A: We hope that the epidemic that has spread all over the world will disappear as soon as possible, and it is true that art fairs have been canceled due to COVID-19. The exhibitions have been canceled, but the work in the studio continues to shape every day. I like creating new works with the impressions gained through travel, but now I cannot travel actively, so I cannot find new things. Recently I am working on existing materials in my studio.
Q: What are the future plans in your mind? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or events to share with us?
A: A solo exhibition is scheduled in Paris this December, so we are preparing a work. But if the virus situation gets worse in Paris, it will probably be cancelled. However, In gallery, we are also preparing for an exhibition together to make it a good exhibition.
Q: As a last question, this question is very crucial for women and gender equity. As a scientist I am sometimes having hard moments to reach my career goals just because I am a woman. Can you describe gender issues in art and explicitly in your studies?
A: As a female artist, it cannot be said that there are no problems facing society. However, as long as female artists can deal with the issues raised as women, I would like to actively participate, and I think that they should be able to confidently speak the message to society as a woman. I always live with confidence that if I achieve small goals every moment, I will be able to achieve the big goals I want to achieve someday. Because those who always dream are happy. I think those dreams make life richer.
Hur Kyung Ae, as an independent free spirit artist, she carves the canvas to show us the fact that life is just basic layers of colors. When you master the way you carve it, you can find a resolution out of it as a material to play and eventually feel satisfied. Her meditative expression of art represents the emotional dance sessions in our soul. It consists of anger, depression, joy, love, happiness and fear. In the end, as the canvas reflects the full opinion when you just take a deep breath and see it as it evolves, it shows the tenderness of life and how we should express the multilayers of lifelines as quite minds. She wants us to accept and conceptualize our emotions by carving the colors. May all the souls find their blades to carve and scratch them to the best form of theirs.