Interview: Hyobin Kwon
Luca Curci talks with Hyobin Kwon during ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – VISIONS at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Hyobin Kwon is a New York-based artist specializing in Asian calligraphy and brush paintings. Born and raised in South Korea, Kwon received her BFA in calligraphy from Kei Myung University in 2000. She then moved to China to pursue her MFA and PhD at China Academy of Art. She was the first foreigner to obtain a Doctorate in Chinese bird and flower brush painting in the art history of China. Her works have been exhibited internationally in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Seoul.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Hyobin Kwon – My artistic focus is on modern and unique Asian ink painting. Most Asian painting materials from nature, such as rice paper, ink, natural pigments and brushes. Pottery also requires the use of clay, which is the material extracted from the soil we stand on. in the Bible, God refers the human being to an earthenware or a vessel. For this reason, I became more interested in pottery. After years of studying and collecting potteries, I found myself especially drawn to Blue and White porcelains. In addition, I advocates for the blending of the traditional arts of ceramic and painting, especially the combination of Blue and White porcelain and freehand brushwork painting. In the past tradition, ceramists painted designs on white porcelain vessels with calligraphy brushes. They used that cobalt as the coloring material, and then applied a transparent glaze. Then the vessels are fired at a high temperature, transforming the effect of the blue and white that are beautifully laid on the surface. Recently, I have been working with shattered pieces of potteries. I turned these fractured fragments into a piece of art to reflect my own language. Through the process of breaking and re-assembling, I intend to ponder upon God’s creation, “Nature”.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
HK – Currently working in New York, Kwon continues her “Comparative studies and interactions between Eastern and Western Art.” In addition, she began her research with the theme of “Comparative study of which porcelain between Korea and China” during her Ph.D. course, studying blue-and-white porcelain decoration in earnest. In 2007, she became particularly interested in this theme as a part of her artwork.
LC – What is your creative process like?
HK – Kwon discovered the free-hand brush strokes from traditional calligraphy and the intricate interplay of pattern and colors from the blue-and-white porcelain that widely used in public in the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Many potteries in that time period adapted free hand painting techniques. Combining the similarity between the conventional ink painting and Chinese porcelain decoration, the Kwon’s art practice hovers the boundaries of painting and ceramics. The expression of vital and dynamic lines found in Asian traditional painting is a critical element for the artist. Especially in literary painting, an art genre developed by scholars, the importance of the expression of lines are prioritized and emphasized, as lines are highly regarded as the condensed spirits of artists. The most important point among Xie He’s Six principles of Chinese Painting is “Rhythmic vitality,” which is the most vital part and the ultimate goal of all literary paintings.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
HK – Recently, her new attempts and creative experiments have brought some changes in the theme and materials of the work, including the addition of watercolor, acrylic, stone, and more.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
HK – Especially in this exhibition, Kwon has developed a new set of works to create a unique “line” and form of traditional Asian painting, using actual fragments of blue-and-white porcelains, which in turn strongly reinforce her beliefs in the creative process that she has been studying for over a decade. In her mixed media series, joined ceramic fragments reflect a shape of a human figure, which derives from the belief that the ancestor of mankind was originally made of earth. Kwon says, “The origin of these new creative works are closely connected with the God’s creation.” In her new work, the viewer can see that she is finding her own way through of tracing back to her creative thoughts and strong beliefs. Based on profound understanding of calligraphy and traditional Asian painting, Hyobin Kwon proves herself to be an exceptional artist who is constantly experiment and trying to bring modernity in her works. She continues to communicate with viewers at higher levels of aesthetics as her work develops over time.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
HK – Kwon naturally combines her unique aesthetics of blue-and-white porcelain with the candid and free-spirited skills of literary painting. She steps towards another level of aesthetics through her deep understanding and study of these “lines” in Asian traditional paintings and develops it further. Her practice is aligned with ancient scholars and artists’, maintaining a spiritual communication with them.