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Heejin Chong

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The title of my recent paintings, "Hands and Knives," derived from the methods and tools I use for my paintings. Grasping materials, applying by hand, and scratching with paint knives, I express honest emotion directly on the canvas. My gestures are a connection between the intuitive mind and physical action. I tried to transport the spontaneity of my inner state of mind through action. My body starts to bring out all the energy in me and my movement become screaming. The repetitive actions of my hands, knives, and body accompany and bring forth the rhythm. The rhythm becomes a ritualistic release. The idea is that I would physically act out my inner impulses, and that my emotion or state of mind would the resulting paint marks.


Some find that my paintings have a strong connection with expressionist artwork. Since my background of studying and researching Asian paintings, I would also say that my works are fundamentally influenced by traditional oriental painting theory and Asian aesthetics. The important idea of my paintings is more spiritual than technique. Art work must contain aura.  The notion of action painting, gestural work, or mark making could be compare with the idea of Asian finger paintings ("Jidu-painting" in Korean). The painting was popular in 19th century of Chosun dynasty in Korea. The style of the painting first found in Tang dynasty and popular in Qing Dynasty in China. Action painting and Asian "finger painting" has similarity in terms of the expression. The technique of styles is both rough and expressive yet honest.


The painting material has been changed since I moved to United States. For my impromptu works, I use mixed media, such as acrylics, oil sticks, and mediums for texture.  I am enchanted by the tactile quality of materials. My technique and materials were rooted in Asian painting. Yet, my interest in tactual perception used to bring me to develop the technique of using clay for my old paintings for almost a decade. Therefore, my old works, as described in Asian painting, and my recent painting have connection, in terms of the obsession of sculpting layers of materials and making texture, aside from mind expression. My paintings are the combination of Eastern and Western aesthetics.


The canvas is mind space, rather than a two dimensional plane. Metaphorically, I'm walking into my canvas. I bleed out all the thoughts and my mind onto the canvas. I feel catharsis. I become free. I'm dancing on my canvas. Then, I'm just walking into the world of my mind, refreshed and whole again.