Graduates 2017: Sooeon Jeong

” The initial idea of these works comes from the notion of ‘space’.”

Can you tell us a bit about your work?

“When a border is applied to this space, it can either divide it or unify it. This relates to the current situation of Korea, where I come from, a space that has been divided since 1953. The border area between North and South Korea is the most symbolic of spaces expressing this political situation.

Sooeon Joeng

Students at South Korean schools typically take a trip to a “Unification Observatory” where people can see the Demilitarized Zone that divides the North and South, and some ways further into parts of North Korea itself. My own visit to a Unification Observatory was a special experience for me, as it stimulated a part of my imagination that I could not otherwise access. A five-kilometre-wide gulf, the DMZ, rests between the borders of North and South Korea, where civilian access is restricted. This isolated area around the border has been preserved for over 60 years without human access. I thus see it as a mysterious and surrealistic place. Furthermore, my perception of the country’s division is different from those who have experienced it directly.

I am of the third generation after the split. I see the border area as an unknown world, one that evokes curiosity. The division of the Koreas is a tragic historical event. But when I see the border area, the most physical representation of the division that there is, I feel a sense of solemnity, stillness, and beauty there. These works describe the space using contemporary perspectives, recognising the violence that comes from the division.

Sooeon Jeong

Collapse is an important keyword in my works, as it carries both positive and negative meanings, implying violence as well as progress. A collapse indicates the destruction of that which had been maintained, but it can be a step on the path of advancement (i.e. the collapse of something bad to make way for something good). It opens possibilities for creation and a chance for change. With respect to Korea, collapse can be a path towards unification. On the other hand, it also signifies the violence and brutality not only of the division, but of a potential war between the two countries.

These works describe the beauty of collapse, agonising over how to express the harmony and juxtaposition between beauty and violence in paintings. Visually, it is important to strike a balance between a figurative and an abstract painting, to better illustrate the beauty and violence. To convey both aspects of collapse, I used plaster as the main material in these works. Plaster is a useful material to build structures, but it can also be demolished easily. The features of plaster have much in common with what I think about space. In my works, some of the plasters exist to constitute structures but also to illustrate scenes of collapse.”

Sooeon Jeong

How have you found studying at Brighton?

“I have totally enjoyed Fine Art painting course and the main reason is an “diversity”. As an international student, experiencing other student’s perspectives expanded my notion of art. I have felt that my ideas and works have been addressed with a variety of views, respected as an artist, in critics and tutorials. Thus, I could come out of myself and have been developed visual ideas with a strong concept over three years. Overall, this course makes me to have a confidence to be a professional artist.”

What plans do you have following graduation?

“I need to go back to South Korea after the graduation because my visa will be expired soon. However, I hope to get a chance for an artist residency in Europe. After having 2 years for developing my works and career, I would like to apply to the Royal College of Art for MA Fine Art painting course.”

See more of Sooeon’s work

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