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Graduates 2022: Kahee Jeong: Fine Art: Painting

“My professors, great artists as well, have been very supportive and dedicated to their students. Particularly, their tolerant attitudes towards my works have contributed to my achievement.”

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

In the first lockdown, spending as much time cooking as painting, I started recognising the origin of foods; they were all living things before food, so making food always involves destruction. I have found that a superficial image of food could evoke straightforward happiness such as a pleasure of tasting something delicious; however, the underneath reality might hurt or disgust us.

My works, which are related to attempts to translate submerged ambivalence of food, began with recognising it as ‘flesh’ of living bodies. The marks, process and materials in my practice reflect our daily traces of food which exist on our tongues, and bodies as well as on the table. Reproducing these abstract images, I intended to visualise the moment that our sensory nerves create specific emotions by biological electric signals, induced from narratives of flesh.

Investigating the clash between the sensibilities of food, my theme seeks phenomenon beyond the surface such as the sacrifice and violence behind sustenance and hospitality. I have developed this notion to the expanded food chain related to the fact that the stronger attack the weaker as their prey in human society.

One of my installation works, 153 mouths(2022) reflects the issue frustration of people attacked East Asians as their prey during the pandemic, when the virus preyed on human.(In Korean traditional culture, filling a mouth of the dead body with rice is an important ritual in the funeral.) This expanded viewpoint affected making the multiple layers of connotation and materials in my works such as hidden oil painting beneath of food-dyes and fragments on paper under the fabric or ceramic. However, the expressions of raw and clashing emotions materialise in calm ways through the digesting and refining processes. This is inspired by Korean traditional painting style; as if our tables mostly seem to be composed of peaceful flesh although these are set on the roar of the predator and the scream of the prey. This aims to allow the viewers to have transcendent eyes which calmly gaze at the image beyond the surface through diaphanous paper and fabric.


How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

For 3 years, I have truly enjoyed my Fine Art Painting course, as if playing with painting rather than working or studying. My professors, great artists as well, have been very supportive and dedicated to their students. Particularly, their tolerant attitudes towards my works have contributed to my achievement. I love my classmates who have opened up their minds to a friend from the far East. Enjoying their works is one of my greatest pleasures.

There is no choice but to mention the amazing city of Brighton. I have been very touched by the beautiful nature, fresh air and awesome scenery in Brighton. Walking along the seaside, I thought that the Earth shares many similarities with humans; for example, water takes up 70% of the surface on the Earth, and the human body also has 70% of water. The forests of the Earth look like our hair or bronchiole. The Earth also has many living things as we have bacteria and mold in our body. To the Earth, humans might be a harmful virus and a greedy gourmand. This awakening inspired me to develop my work in more organic ways in Brighton. In terms of my painting materials, I try to minimise plastic and chemical rubbish; I am sure that it will be more valuable for the next generation to appreciate uncontaminated true nature rather than imitated nature in my work.


How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Painting?

Before coming to Brighton, I painted at night and worked at a pharmacy by day in Korea. Although it was not easy, I could not stop painting since I found that it was more exciting for me than working as a pharmacist. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence which has the power to remember more than 10,000 books of pharmacological knowledge made me frustrated. However, when seeing the painting created by AI, I felt a sort of inner confidence to start studying painting; there was no spirit in AI’s painting. I believe that art is not just a skill.

Applying for 4 art schools in the U.K., fortunately I was offered a place from all schools. I watched the current art students’ interview videos online and searched for the view of each school on google map. On the video, I read a sort of stress in the faces of other art schools’ students, although they smiled. However, the art students at Brighton looked truly happy and enjoyable. In addition, the wonderful scenery in Brighton fascinated me.

Painting allows me to have new insight towards the world that I have never found before, so it expands my boundaries. The process of making invisible concepts visible by materialising them always stimulates me.


 What are your plans after graduation?

Growing from an international student to an international artist is one of important plans. I shall continue to paint and try to look for chances to show my works. I also have a plan to study further for MA degree in the U.K.


Instagram: @kaheejeong

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