About Min KyeongAh: Min KyeongAh (’84, Stock Breeding) is a graduate of Korea University (KU). She studied printmaking in the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston where she received her art diploma. She later came back to Korea to study and teach printmaking as a professor at Hongik University. Her art is displayed and owned by numerous museums, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
▲ Min KyeongAh talking to GT. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LEE HYUN JI.
"Art, by definition, speaks the truth through deception.” Min KyeongAh stated during her interview with The Granite Tower (GT). Her woodcut pieces contain a mix of fantasies, superheroes and magic, as well as the authenticity of human faces, real places and events. Such uncommon combination of both fantastical and realistic elements makes the audience question where the “truth” in her art lies. GT sat down with Min to hear from her the untold stories behind the canvas.
We wondered why you chose to depict Pinocchio in some of your artpieces. Could you tell us why Pinocchio stood out for you in particular?
The character we know as Pinocchio was once a block of wood that gets carved into the form of a wooden doll; only when the human soul is blown into him does he truly become a real boy. What was fascinating for me was that, in fact, this process of Pinocchio becoming a human boy was very similar to the course of artistic production. I feel artists are the sculptors that provide the body, and that those bodies can only grow into life once they encounter the audience’s souls.
When you look at Pinocchio’s body, it is intriguing how the one part he has nocontrol over sits right at the center of hisface; in a way, his nose could be taken as asymbol of honesty. On the other hand, it could also be that Pinocchio simply cannot cope with his ego, since a nose high in theair usually points to arrogance. Frankly speaking, if everyone today were to begiven a nose like Pinocchio’s, everyone would have to walk around with massively long ones. Likewise, the subject matters of Pinocchio and his nose were intriguing enough to provoke such thoughts that eventually led to my <Pinocchio> series.
A lot of your pieces have human faces and animal bodies, and vice versa. What was your motive behind such combinations?
I often mix different creatures up within my work. For example, I mix animal bodies with a human face and I place Pinocchio’s nose on human faces to create fictional entities that are difficult to identify. Through blurring what we conceive as important, I wanted to reveal my perception on what the essence of art is. Art is speaking the truth through deceptive elements. When the audience is confused by fantastic appearance of these strange half-human, half-beasts, I hope that they will be able to interpret the work with their own standards of the truth.
(Human+Animal), linocut, 2017 Min KyeongAh. PROVIDED BY MIN KYEONGAH.
Another motive was that I wanted people to think about how incomplete we all are inside. We are all human beings with flaws and differences. More broadly speaking, I also wanted people to consider how difficult it is to draw the line between truth and falsehood. Nowadays, truth is rarely unspoiled. I wanted to express its fluidity and the confusion we as people feel when confronted with the truth through my imaginary figures.
Why were you most attracted to woodcutart instead of other forms of expression?
I was captivated by the monochromatic color scheme of this medium. Others may think that I use only black and white.This is partly true, but there are so many different shades of black and white that I cannot say that I solely use two colors formy art. Moreover, because the carving onwood is irreversible, it forces me to be more attentive. I enjoy the tension that comes from intensely focusing on my work and when I do make mistakes in the process, the only way to move on is by turning the error into another form of art. Surprisingly, I sometimes end up with better results when I turn my mistakes into art. I feel like the same applies to life.
▲ 67x60cm, linocut, 2016 Min KyeongAh. PROVIDED BY MIN KYEONGAH.
When I look back to moments when I did things that I probably shouldn’t have done, moments I regret, I always come to realize that those moments actually shaped me into the person I am today. I used to question the years I had spent in KU; I had studied stockbreeding when what I truly wanted was to be engrossed in art. When I feel like I have wasted four years of my precious youth, I simply think of how my life is unfolding now and realize that those four years only strengthened and improved me.
What strikes you as the biggest concern in your creative endeavors?
The biggest concern is trying to find the truth in a world and a society where truth and deception are so deeply intertwined. It is extremely challenging to seek and show what we should aspire to—beauty, truth and goodness—without being artistically aggressive. There always will be those who see propaganda where none is present. Naturally, the way I present my values is always the biggest concern for me.
Another chronic dilemma for me is that I cannot be free from the eyes of my wealthier, more powerful buyers. They have their own taste of art. However, I have no wish to force myself to conform to their standards or curtail the boundaries of my art because of them. I am an artist with a voice, and I wish to express my thoughts through my art without anything stopping my words.
Do you have any future plans or valuesyou wish to live by as an artist?
I want to keep focusing my art on the search for the truth and the core essence that mayor may not exist in this world. My art is aprocess of such exploration. I desire to beable to speak of the truth that I discover as I wield my tools towards the goal I have set for myself as an artist. My plan is to continue just as I have, as long as I create.
▲ Pinocchio (Durer. Girl with a Pearl Earring), linocut, 2017 Min KyeongAh. PROVIDED BY MIN KYEONGAH