• 2017 2nd AUO Artist
  • Son Yuhwa
  • Central Saint Martins, Mres Art Theory and Philosophy, 3rd semester
  • Son Yuhwa lives and works in Seoul and London. She is currently studying Practice-based Mres Art Theory and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins in London. Yuhwa explores the possibilities of painting in contemporary art. Her work could be defined as conceptual painting, with elements of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance, which balances on the boundary of disciplines. Her work stems from the question; what is painting or what is the boundary of painting in contemporary art? Yuhwa held her solo show called ‘Painting as Object’, Cyart gallery in 2016. She also shortlisted for ‘Griffin Art Award’ and ‘WW Solo Award’ in 2013.

Dear Painting

3D (Sculpture, Installa..

  • 2017
  • oil with found object
  • 22 * 10 * 6 (cm)
  • 2017
  • oil with found object
  • 22 * 10 * 6 (cm)
  • 2017
  • oil with found object
  • 7 * 13 * 7 (cm)
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017


Image 1: ‘You never know what I have’, oil on found object, 22*10*6cm, 2017
I painted the “egg” by squeezing the tube of oil paint and brushing it at the corner of the egg box, so the lump of oil paint is pretending to be an egg.

Image 2: ‘You never know what I have’

Image 3:’ After drinking beer’, oil with found object, 7x7x12.5cm, 2017
It is the work I previously uploaded for the second mentoring of Art-Uni-On. I filled the inside of two empty mayonnaise jars with white colour oil paints to paint mayonnaise.

Image 4: I developed the work, ‘After drinking beer’, as I displayed them in the mayonnaise section of a store.

Image 5: [Zoomed-in]

Image 6: I made a kind of poster of exhibition which is a very private show between my painting and me.

Image 7: I have written letters to ‘painting’. I am currently writing letters to oil paints, canvas, painting, and my stubbornness as a form of research.

The below is some parts of my letter to 'Painting'.

Dear Painting

I cannot forget the moment when I met you first. I was so young, about 3 or 4 years old, but I remember whenever we met I enjoyed you so much. The colours, drawing… you were such a time killer!

I asked myself, then, what is painting in contemporary art? What have we done with painting art has changed? Who knows that painting may have been in a constant battle with other mediums and forms of art sometimes quietly, sometimes fiercely? I think that the biggest crisis of painting was the invention of photography, many painters lost their jobs, and their paintings had to be replaced by photographs. It was like the birth of younger brother. There is embarrassment in having to share that love with the emergence of a sudden sibling when a child had previously hogged the love his or her parents alone. Indeed, just as a child acquires a different position in his or her family and society after he has a younger brother, so painting acquires a different social position from before, because of the birth of a new medium.

By the way, I heard that Duchamp left you and started ‘ready-made’ things around 1913. I am so sorry. But I like his humour and I do not think that he just left you completely, look at the ‘L.H.O.O.Q ‘, he still worked with a sort of painting. I started to paint everyday objects as three-dimensional forms when I studied in London. I painted a screw, super bond, toilet paper, soap, and radiator, etc. When people see my work, they think that my works just ‘ready-made’ like what Duchamp did, but as they look closely and take time, they notice something painterly and start to guess what it is. For me, all this process is a series of comedy shows. It is so playful, I am always serious for my work but also playing a game with oil paints, object, people, art history, and art terms, like ‘hide and seek’.

As I make painting as three-dimensional form or sometimes install like site-specific work, people could think that I am creating sculpture with oil paints. Yes, I agree that it looks like that. but I want to define my work as just painting. Why? It is funny, isn’t it? I make something that does not look as painting, and say, no, sorry, it is painting.

I know, I am stubborn. I only use traditional painting materials; oil paint, canvas and brush. I do not know why I only use oil paint, but I love the texture and I feel that you – Painting - are something like a grandmother or ancestor to me. My work is quite labour-intensive. I am stubborn even with my working style. It takes time and requires skill. I also usually work from 9 to 6. Oh, I need to paint now, see you in the studio.

17th November 2017

Your sincerely,

Mina Cheon, Artist, Professor

Dear Yuhwa

I appreciated your development throughout the semester and witnessed your paintings as performative events, actions, and installations with deepened contextual framing and consideration. For future reference, I wonder what happens to your paintings outside the gallery context, will the work lose its art historical and painterly world meanings? Would it make sense to continue to be painting? How far can you draw out performative paintings until they are no longer paintings? I enjoy the supermarket context of the mayonnaise jars since you are forcing the artistic concept into real-world staging, but would shoppers understand this? Does it matter? Or will your work remain a sharp critique and instigation of the gallery institution and traditions of painting? I return to a question I ask all art students, what is the role of the artist? Do you think that somehow you can help educate and connect what is art and what is life? What kind of life intervention can you do that is also performative that can help people want to pay more attention to paintings (yours as well) in gallery settings that is conceptual and requires layers of reading beyond the visual and aesthetic? Keep me posted, all best Mina Cheon

Dear Mina

This is Yuhwa from Art-Uni-On.

Thank you for your enthusiastic and thoughtful comments for the mentoring programs. I have been so happy to have a very sensible and lovely mentor, like you. I am a big fan of the work of Ham Kyung-ah you mentioned which is so interesting to hear that you thought her work during mentoring as I never thought about it.

I did my BA in Seoul, Dongduck Women’s University and learned about ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ from Sumi Kang who has researched on Walter Benjamin. I probably started to think about painting at that moment.

I also enjoyed looking at your interesting works online and hope to see your exhibition someday. I will check your SNS and contact you if I can attend one of your shows. Thank you so much to help me as my mentor for three months and I wish your good luck for New Year!

Ps. yes, my name is 손유화 in Korean.

Best wishes,
Yoo Geuntaek, Artist, Professor
세번의 크리틱을 통하여 손유화작가의 작업들을 만날수 있었던것은 큰 기쁨이었던 으로 생각된다. 지난 글에서 언뜻 거론했지만 어떤 침묵하고 있는 사물들의 틈새를 발견하고 그만의 독특한 제스춰를 통해 언어를 이끌어 내는 그 만의 방식은 매우 신선하다는 생각을 한다. 언뜻 스쳐 지날 수 있는 사물들을 그 만의 예민한 촉수로 발견하고 그것을 작업으로 확장시킬수 있는 것은 그가 갖고 있는 중요한 덕목중에 하나라고 생각한다.그런 의미에서 나는 그녀의 작품들중에"you never know what I have"나 "when you raise me up"이나 "Live""black and what"등,의 작업들을 좋아한다.그러한 작업들은 어떤 평범함에 숨어있는 언어를 그녀만의 특유한 미술적인 상상력과 유모러스한 진지함들에 대한 태도를 반영하고 있다고 생각한다. 나는 그녀의 이러한 지점은 이미 기존의 그림에 대한 고정관념을 벗어나게 하고 있지만 그의 작업들이 얼마나 심리적이고 역사적인 연대감들을 확장할 수 있는지에 대한 가능성들은 두고 봐야할 문제라고 생각한다.또한 그의 작업은 이미 페인팅을 벗어나있어도 스스로 존재할수 있는 지점에 있다고 한다면 궂이 "페인팅"이라는 자칫 스스로의 카테고리가 될 수 있는 명제가 필요한지는 생각해 볼 문제라 생각된다. 그녀의 작업은 연극적이면서도 문학적이고,한편으로는 조각적이면서도 회화적인 어떤 경계를 넘나들수 있다는 지점이 나는 오히려 더욱 매력적인 지점으로 다가오기 때문이다. 그녀의 더욱 건강하고 강력한 에너지의 다음 작업을 기대한다...

AUO translator

I took great pleasure from doing three critics of Son Yuhwa’s works. As I commented in the last critic, I find the artist’s own way to find little cracks of silent objects and bring out different language through her unique gesture very fresh. I also think an ability to discover objects that are easy to just walk by with her sensitive tentacles and expand it to an artwork is one of her important virtue. Because of that I like “You Never Know What I Have”, “When You Raise Me Up”, “Live”, Black and What” among her works. These works reflect languages hiding in ordinary, the artist’s unique and artistic imagination, and attitude somewhat humorous and serious. This point of her work already expands out to the stereotype of painting, but I think the possibility of how much her works can expand to psychological and historical bond is something to watch over. Also if her works are at place where they can exist as they are although they exceed the category of painting, the question of should they be called “painting” is something to think about. The artist’s works can cross-over the boundaries that are theatrical, literary, sculptural and pictorial, and I think the charm of her work lies in that. I look forward to see healthier and energetic works of her.

2018-01-18 13:05:43

Yoo Geuntaek, Artist, Professor
손유화의 이번 작업들도 여전히 그의 태도를 여실히 반영하는 작업들을 보여 주고 있다. 계란판에 계란을 '만들어/그려' 넣어 'You never know what I have'라 명명하여 완성한 작업과 기존의 마아가린 용기를 이용한 'After drinking beer'란 작업은 지난 회에 발표된 것을 다시 슈퍼마켓 진열장에 되돌려 보내진 것 같은 사진작업을 포함한 것이다. 이것은 마치 뒤샹이 레디메이드를 미술관으로 불러들였다면, 다시 레디메이드를 제 장소로 되돌려 보내지는 퍼포먼스를 보는 것 같은 생각을 하게 되는 것이다. 이것은 그의 미술사에 대한 특유의 유머러스한 상상력을 이끌어 내고 있다는 생각을 하게 된다. 그는 기존의 전통적인 오일안료를 이용하고 캔버스와 브러시를 간혹 사용하지만 간혹 조각적으로 혹은 간혹 개념적으로 읽히지만 그는 역시 '그림'이라는 지점에 그의 방점이 찍혀있다는 것을 알 수 있다. 이는 그가 그림에 부치는 편지에서 "오일물감과 물질과 사람들과 예술사와 그 시간들과 게임할 따름..."이라 밝혔듯이 그의 특유의 유머러스한 진지함들에 대한 태도를 반영하고 있는 것이다. 나는 그녀의 섬세한 페인팅에 대한 독특한 상상력은 기존의 그림에 대한 고정관념을 벗어나게 하고 있지만 그의 작업들이 얼마나 심리적이고 역사적인 연대감들을 확장할 수 있는지에 대한 가능성들은 두고 봐야 할 문제라고 생각한다. 또한 그의 작업은 이미 페인팅을 벗어나 있어도 스스로 존재할 수 있는 지점에 있다고 한다면 굳이 페인팅이라는 명제가 필요한지는 생각해 볼 문제라 생각된다.

AUO translator

Son Yuhwa continuously shows artworks that reflects her attitude. The photography works that show the works from 2nd uploads, ‘You never know what I have’ which was executed by making/painting eggs in an egg container and ‘After drinking beer’ executed by using the margarine container are displayed in showcases of a supermarket as if they were send back to there. It made me think that I am watching a performance of sending readymade objects back to its original place as Duchamp brought readymade objects to museums at first place. I think the artist is reflecting her own unique and humorous imagination about art history in the artworks. She uses traditional oil paints, often canvas and brushes, and her works are often read in sculptural and conceptual aspects, but her end point is marked at ‘painting’. As it is shown in her letter to painting, she is ‘just playing games with oil paints, media, people, art history and time…’ and her humorous yet serious attitude is reflected in that quote. I think her unique imagination in the delicate paintings is helping them to break free from the stereotypes of existing artworks. However at the same time, I think how much the psychological and historical solidarity of her works can expand is another thing that we need to take time and watch. And if her work reached the point where it can exist itself out of painting’s boundary, it is time to think a statement that it is a painting would be necessary.

2017-12-19 12:12:16

Mina Cheon, Artist, Professor
Dear Yuhwa (유화?) That is really clever.

You are the most performative painter I’ve seen recently. But I think you are performing more than painting and you love to paint, you also seem either very disappointed or excited by the limitation of painting itself, more accurately perhaps both making it a very performative stance.

The stubborn letters to painting as if it is a memory, past act, historical event, sibling, ancestor, something of significance, jealousy, competition, platform of communication is wild and golden, although, I believe that photography prompted abstraction as the last resort for painting’s survival after hyperrealism in painting. My painting mentor Grace Hartigan use to say that there are so many paintings in history and paintings of relevance, that as painters, there is close to no space to paint a great painting, that there is actually a very small slivery of a space or chance this can happen (I’m completely paraphrasing here) but her point is that is what makes the excitement to go at it with painting, that it is absolutely impossible to make a mark with painting with all the competition of paintings from the past, to the present, perhaps the future.

The two mayo jars that you fill with white paint, reminds me a lot of Ham Kyungah’s earlier works that dealt with cultural displacement and hierarchy of the western art object. I don’t know if you can find her previous work (2009 »Desire and Anesthesia«, Artsonje Center) but she had a collection of documented photographs of all the things she would swap from one culturally specific situation to another such as replacing a cup in an airplane from KAL in Air France, or swapping cappuccino cups from cafes of different countries, or even chairs? She also somehow stole objects for years and had them displayed in major museum vitrines. I am probably not doing justice in explaining her work but basically reshuffling things into or out of context with unexpected events and providing secretive documentation is the works of art intervention. I think you are doing this with your painting projects, the mayo jars in their ubiquitous placement, as the set up for the private painting, show for no-one that you are about to have, this is performance art. And, you are interested in reproductive qualities of painting and not of what is original, authentic, and traditional. Try reading Walter Benjamin’s Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, some stuff on Baudrillard’s simulacra and hyperrealism, and Situationists, Fluxus, and Kaprownian Happening in the context of your work.

Oh, very interesting that I requested a fuller statement of work and you provided a letter to painting, I have to admit it works even better. Thank you, all best Mina
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