from Los Angeles, United States.
Interviewed by Eunyoung Cho(Art Historian & Professor at Wonkwang Univ.)
"I grew up in a very ordinary suburb of America, San Fernando Valley."
"My parents knew I wanted to do art. They used to say, "Yeah, We'll go to Huntington," and so I was able to see the main paintings there. These things all have affected my childhood. Even now, space, surrealism, and ecological movement are still important topics. "
"Can you imagine how beautiful the Hudson River and the island were there alone?
LA is the same. It would have been a paradise when there were only indigenous peoples, a wide sea, mountains and rivers. "
”Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, along with the New York East Village's leading star writer. What do you miss the most in those days? “
I miss my friends very much. All my friends are leaving the world. It's been a long time since they left, but the sense of loss was great at the time. I was so lonely. It took me a while to learn how to go forward alone. I miss that time, but I'm not into homesick-like emotions. I am enjoying this moment, and what I do is really attractive. So now I am living my own life. I have experienced various life so far and I think that my life is great. What I miss is the "community". It was very sticky and family friendly. In the community, my friends were my family. It was totally different than now. Friends who are still alive are in a close relationship, but scattered all over the world. So I can not be together like before. So I miss the community.
“Were there any works or exhibitions that gave a great surprise or shock at the time?”
I recently talked to someone about Basquiat. It was in 1978. We used to be teenagers, and we would hang around the streets and paint. One day I went to an apartment where Basquiat lives, with all kinds of ripped collages, drawings, torn paper, and so on. It was such a shock in my head like, "Wow!" I felt an undeniable energy. I felt how energetic he was, even after he died, it got much stronger. It was a big shock when I first saw his work.
“What are the reasons of juxtaposed contradictory and conflicting elements in your work, like heaven and hell, a youthful cartoon character, a nuclear explosion, and the destruction of humanity?”
The reason why I can not not think about the threat is because there are too many negative and dark side to the world and I want to show it. That is why we need more goodness, more love, more light and more color. I think my mission is to represent them. So I use elements of infinity of space or abstract expressionism in my work. It's a deeper, darker space, and a very bright light. It is like the infinite castle that lasts forever beyond the objects of our eyes that are conflicting with each other like the future and the past.
“To ask you more practical questions, I am curious to know how you actually plan and produce the work.”
The work of super pop form requires drawing in advance. I draw a sketch on the canvas, and I make a little plan. In some cases, a piece of paper is roughly drawn on the canvas. But that kind of work is rare, and I do not usually draw. It is largely autonomous and improvisational. There is no drawing when painting walls. For example, when approaching a wall to draw a picture, if a bird flies, then I go, 'Okay! That is it.’ And then draw it on the wall. The improvisation is interesting. I like that way of working. Sometimes, if you need a pre-drawing, it feels like homework. Homework when I'm in school... Everybody hates it. I just want to enjoy improvisation.
I have read that you always find faces no matter where you go or what you see. Is that why you're drawing faces everywhere?”
Such characteristics have begun with childhood first, with illusion. I sat in my parents' car while there was a traffic jam, and I could see this face. Does not it look like a face when you see American cars in the 1950s? The front and back of every car looked like a strange face. From my first visual experience it left a very intense impression. Because I lived in Los Angeles with lots of cars. In the 1960s, there are many quirky cars with large, rounded flat designs with fin-shaped parts. Especially for very young children, they seem to have strange faces. When you look at the house, the windows are seen as eyes, and the doors are seen as mouth. I see all the houses like that. When I look at the back of the TV, I see a face. The work can be seen in the exhibition. The faces are staring at me. When I draw a face and bring a breath of life to it, I am just bringing what I have seen and showing people what I see all the time.
“When do you feel the greatest happiness and accomplishment in your work?”
Well, I feel great excitement when I finish something. When you put an effort into something, it finally comesto an end.
“Does it feel like you have created life?”
I am a very goal-oriented person. Sometimes, however, you will sacrifice to achieve goals when you become overly goal-oriented. So I think the whole process is part of my experience. Fundamentally yes. I am very happy when I am working as I am just listening to music in the studio. I go into my consciousness structure, but I soon get lost.
"Artists often look into the future."