Hyun-Mi Yoo tells her stories through sculpture, painting, and video. Her initial focus as a sculpture major was on giving life to mundane objects. Inspired by many masters, Yoo's work creates imaginary scenes with recombined fragments of reality, as occurs in dreams and stories.
Her body of work begins with sculpture and chemical processes, resulted in photography. The first stage consists of sculpting object which are then installed in studio corners and oil-painted. Carefully chosen serve to remove the objects' original material properties. Brush-painted light effects that take the interaction between objects and space into consideration are then applied as a means of completing formal compositions. Finally, after an ideal angle of view has been chosen, the objects are photographed. The process mostly eliminates the need for digital manipulation.
During this process sculpture, painting, and photographic techniques are utilized freely without limitations. Colors and forms, mainly determined by the conventional method of manually painting a surface, are often altered while being photographed. Shadows created spontaneously by objects under a light source are mixed with false shadows painted on the wall. The way the work functions, therefore, blurs the boundary between the real and the fictional.
Yoo’s work also has the quality of emphasizing the experience of hovering between boundaries, contrasting the interior and exterior of the frame. Even for unrealistic, gravity-defying images, objects are physically installed in their carefully calculated positions in order to maximize the sense of real tension. They create unrealistic scenes ad they are installed mid-air, leaning or piling up on one another before being photographed.
Bleeding Blue explores such boundaries of reality most effectively. By painting over a man sitting on a couch and on the entire environment around him, a physical space has been converted into a piece of painting. This is an ironic exploration of reality as a testament to this age of mechanical art reproduction in which reality is actively manipulated or even absent.
The ideas manifesting in Yoo’s work are conceived from tales, dreams, others’ experiences, or literature. These stories share the quality of reflecting unrealistic wishes and desires. Yoo seeks to invent an unrestricted alternative reality with a large ever-attentive ear, an animal horn, a symbol of eternity attached to a chair made of dead trunks, or settings representing femininity and sexual desire. These ideas, recreated ad her work, are not simply wild acts of imagination—they question a blurred sense of reality, as well as offering consolation.
Yoo’s recent interest lies in the fortune-seeking messages of oriental paintings and religious cave paintings. This explain the frequent appearances of symbolic figures of fortune in her work, some of which are specific to Korean culture—such as pigs symbolizing wealth, deer symbolizing auspiciousness, and turtles symbolizing long life.
Still life No.3, 2006
8888, 2014 (process of painting)