I came across the work of SoHee Kim as I was assigned to write a piece about her work for Bracket Magazine, an art publication I contribute to. SoHee is a Korean painter currently based in Daegu, the city I called home for two years. She studied art in Seoul and Tokyo choosing to focus on printmaking and oil painting.
Her art resonated deeply because I relate to her biggest theme – how ridiculously busy and distracting city living can be. Most of us go about our days as numb drones operating on autopilot. In our modern age of busyness and black mirrors (cell phones), it’s easy to stop noticing our surroundings and acknowledging others.
SoHee paints a bleak but accurate portrayal of city dwelling. Those of us that have spent time in big cities know too well that it can be stressful, chaotic, dirty and full of absent minded people rushing somewhere. But, all of this can be quite funny. That’s what I like most about SoHee’s art – that she points it all out to us with a playful and humorous approach. After all, she’s part of the rat race, too.
Here’s a brief interview with the artist.
Describe the work you do.
I am an artist who produces prints, oil paintings and sculptures. I also own and run a print studio in Daegu.
Why did you want to pursue a career in the arts?
When I was little I liked to read books and draw pictures alone rather than play with my friends. I found these activities delightful and calm so naturally, I wanted to become a painter.
What influences your work?
Big cities. I’ve spent all my life living in them. I was born in Daegu, the third largest city in Korea. I studied university in Seoul, Korea’s capital and a massive metropolis. And I lived in Tokyo for ten years. I like to observe people that live in cities, myself included because I always find material to use in my work.
Where do you find inspiration?
Public transportation. I like to watch people in spaces like subways, trains, elevators and stations. These places are where we witness the universality of human beings. And thankfully they are always present in big cities no matter which country you go to.
What is your creative process like?
It takes much longer to determine what to draw than to actually produce the work. I’ll usually have an array of moving images in my head that are appealing and so choosing a good one is tricky and can be time consuming. Once I know what I want to make, the long and tedious process begins which can range from a few days to a few months, just to complete one piece. It’s a complicated journey but the excitement of seeing what exactly will be the end product keeps me going.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The advantage of my job is that nobody can take it away from me until I decide to stop making art. I also enjoy exposing the world to Korea through my creations.
And the worst?
It’s an unstable job and can be hard to plan for the future.
What makes you happy?
Traveling for exhibitions and meeting new people there that understand me and my art. And when you are cheered by people you love.
How do you define success?
Living a life true to myself - with as little things as possible to regret or be ashamed about.
Can you provide links to your website and social media?