Artist Kim Hyun Jung paints a beautiful traditional twist to modern day obsessions
A woman wearing a hanbok sits on the counter of her Hello Kitty-decked out kitchen, binge eating out of the rice pot cradled in her arms. She just came home after a blind date and hasn’t eaten properly for days due to the nerves that built up from anticipating the first date. This is the scene from “I’m a Woman” painted by South Korean artist Kim Hyun Jung. Her technique and style is reminiscent of the Joseon-era, but painted with an honest and quirky depiction of the daily life and worries of a 21st century South Korean woman.
“My paintings seek to break the images associated with the Korean traditional costume and expectations that follow about its wearer’s behavior. I do so to address the faux-naif,” Kim said at a Seoul exhibition opening in 2014. Like the female in her paintings, she is often seen at press events and in photos wearing the traditional dress.
The juxtaposition between the elegant hanbok and the way the wearer is eating pizza on the floor in the photo above “New Year's Resolution (feat. starting tomorrow)” is both funny and relate-able. Many females can identify with the clash. Kim paints the females who are trying to balance the act of upholding the traditional ideals of a woman and high standards set by modern day society while being herself. There is a pressure of living up to ideals perceived by someone else, not her own.
In one of Kim’s current representative pieces “Sampo Generation, Miss Kim,” a pair of movie tickets, wedding rings, and a baby bottle among other things are flying off of a woman wearing an employee pass while she is riding a mechanical bull. Kim says of the piece, “They are the objects that symbolize what are called the three failures of the young generation in Korea: dating, marriage and children.”
The modern day woman is worried about money, marriage, status, but also the success of her own career, physical appearances, and new insecurities heightened by social media. Her take on modern day pains of young adults in a world faced with fierce competition met on and off line is fanciful and sullen.
“I think Instagram is a platform where people demonstrate their bluff. If they post 20 pictures taken during a process of doing something on their blogs, the one best picture is uploaded on Instagram, only showing the best part of the process,” said Kim in an interview with Korea Herald.
Take a sneak peek at her 10th solo exhibition Feign Amusement Park held in Seoul this month with the video below. Held from April thru May, this is her largest exhibition to date with about 100 paintings and artworks being showcased.
All photo credit: Kim Hyun Jung
What do you think of her art work? Who are your favorite artists? Share with us in the comments below!