Artist of the Week – Keun Young Park

Posted on February 10, 2014 · Posted in Artist of the Week

'Inbetween'',torn and pasted photo on paper, 42x801inch, 2012

‘Inbetween’, torn and pasted photo on paper, 42 x 801 inches, 2012

Korean artist Keun Young Park creates beautiful and sensual images that seem to float in nothingness. Her collages, created by ripping up pieces of photographs, are meticulously built and composed. The images are broken by the diminutive and delicate white edges from the ripped surfaces of the paper. The effect forms subtle and somewhat eerie depths to the work coupled with her dream and trancelike compositions. The appearance of her work echoes a contemporary (and considerably more interesting) relationship to Seurat’s pointillism.

'Detail of 'Inbetween'

Detail of ‘Inbetween’

These painstakingly handmade creations resonate Parks’ sculptural education and background; the pieces are layered, built and incredibly tactile with muted tones, honouring the simplicity of chosen form. These collages are two-dimensional sculptures.

Park has received awards from A.I.R. Gallery and Artist Talk on Art as well as residencies with Vermont Studio Residency Program and Triangle Arts Workshop.

In her own words

'Absence"',torn and pasted photo on paper, 38x31inch, 2012

‘Absence‘, torn and pasted photo on paper, 38 x 31inches, 2012

Please tell us more about your art and design background and when did you first realize you were an artist?
I was born and educated in Seoul, Korea. I majored in sculpture and I usually made sculpture works in Korea. Just after I got an MFA degree from Seoul National University I came to New York and started to work as one of tons of artists in Manhattan and created this photo mosaic work. I think that I realized I was an artist at the moment when I began to work in my own studio out of school.

You produce a lot of collage images. Looking at them it’s very hard to categorise them. Did you start as a painter or sculptor? How did you start to develop your innovative use of materials?
I can say that I started this work as a sculptor because I majored in sculpture. When I began to work at my studio in NYC I could not make the types of sculpture or installation works that I usually made in Korea because the space was so small and it was not easy for me to get materials. And I thought that it might be a chance to create a new form of work. So I did drawing, small sculptures and many experiments.

'Hands_pink',torn and pasted photo on paper, 18x16inch, 2012

‘Hands_pink’, torn and pasted photo on paper, 18 x 16 inches, 2012

One day I visited the Metropolitan Museum and saw Seurat’s pointillism paintings and the pieces were so impressive that I got interested in the pointillism techniques. I also thought it could be a good reference for me to reflect upon the concepts behind my work about the aesthetic character of existence in the flow of time. Moreover at this time my husband was studying photography so I also got interested in photography and photos and found that printed out images were the easiest materials that I could use. So I started to do this work and continued to develop it further.

Can you describe for us your typical ‘start to finish’ workflow when working on a new painting?
The process is quiet simple. First I take a picture of a body or face. I change the colours or colour saturation of them in photo shop and print them out on paper. Then I tear and paste each piece one by one using archival glue. Tearing and pasting happen at the same time.

'In between_ blue body',torn and pasted photo on paper, 80x501inch, 2012

‘In between_ blue body’, torn and pasted photo on paper, 80 x 501 inches, 2012

When creating your art, do you switch between a variety of disciplines such as drawing and painting, or do you stick to one medium, discipline or dimension?
I would like to work with a variety of forms and actually I have done video, sculpture and installation work. But sometimes I feel that I need some time to develop technique and form to improve for better quality. I have mainly focused on this photo mosaic work for 6 years, but am beginning to try to do new forms of work too.

You are Korean, now living in the US. Do you think that this affects your work? Does the Korean perspective differ from the American perspective in regards to the Art world? If so how?
The new environment has surely affected my work, life and approach to art. My concept for work has been always same since I worked in Korea, but my attitude and pride as an artist has quite changed. And that has influenced the way I like to express my ideas in my work.

When I came to New York for the first time, I figured out that many people here really love and enjoy the arts and respect artists. I felt that people are open to new cultures and different values in life. These are the biggest differences I felt and the reason that I wanted to work here. I am not sure if I can know about all of America only through the experience of living in New York City because I think that New York is a special and unique place that mixes various cultures easily and is filled with huge energy from tons of dreamers from everywhere in the world. I love the diversity and vividness of the New York art field and it always encourage me to work hard.

Dream10"',torn and pasted photo on paper, 31x40inch, 2011

‘Dream10‘, torn and pasted photo on paper, 31 x 40 inches, 2011

Your work is beautifully composed and modernistic, with delicate use of materials. They do however, have an old classical Oriental ‘feel’ to the form. Why have you fused the two together? Has this been a conscious decision in the development of your work?
Actually I did not intend to mix those two aspects, but I can tell that my work has been influenced by oriental concepts and the modernism art form. My ideas and inspiration were from death and disappearing. For this, I have studied Buddhism and Egyptian art. Also I am quite inspired by Modernist art. I truly admire Giacometti, Brancusi and Matisse.

I did not consider consciously consider these influences during my work, but I am so delighted that you saw those points through my work.

"Dream"',torn and pasted photo on paper, 29x401inch, 2011

‘Dream’, torn and pasted photo on paper, 29 x 401 inches, 2011

Where do you hope to take your work and ideas in the next few years?
I intend to study my concept more deeply. It is kind of my question for life. I’m not sure that I will get an answer forever, but it must be a valuable journey for my life and I want to make other people think about it through my work. And I plan to make and show more forms of work, including sculpture and installation pieces.

Keun Young Park was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she received her BFA and MFA Degrees in Sculpture at Seoul National University. Park currently lives and works in New York City and New Jersey. Park has had numerous solo and group exhibits in the United State and Korea.

Hands #2 "',torn and pasted photo on paper, 24x20inch, 2011

‘Hands #2′, torn and pasted photo on paper, 24 x 20 inches, 2011

All images courtesy of Keun Young Park |

For more information on Hong Kong Art Tutoring please contact:
Gail Deayton
Telephone: +852 9722 8353