The Surrealist Portrait Painter: Interview with Young Chun

Young Chun was born a minister’s son in Seoul Korea and spent time in the chapel creating imaginary friends for company.  In 2000, he received his B.F.A. and spent several years painting yet it was not until 2011 that he became a full-time painter. During the years in between, he worked in the healthcare field where he was searching for a greater meaning in life. Young has remained a full-time artist ever since. I have been a fan of his work after seeing it on display in one of the many art fairs I attend. I became so attracted to the girls he paints as each piece has a story to tell.

Enjoy my interview with the very talented Young Chun.

Young is part of the PARADIGM SHIFT  group show on view October 23-November 10 at KEANE EYES GALLERY, 3040 Larkin St. San Francisco, CA.


First, let me say congratulations for not only taking part in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s Mentor Me article but also having work in Haven Gallery with the magazine. How did that connection come about?

Thank you… yeah, I’m really excited to be participating in the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine curated group exhibition, at Haven Gallery. Haven shows some incredible work by some incredible artist, and Beautiful Bizarre is one of my favorite art publications. So, clearly I’m excited and feel honored to be part of this show!

Being that I own a piece of your work, I can honestly tell you I can see how easy it would be to become a collector. Your subject matter is so pretty to look at yet there is always something haunting about the women. Can you explain what your thought process is when creating each piece?

Most of the images I paint evolve over time in my mind, naturally. As a reaction to the feelings I experience at certain moments of my life. I try to paint the image as it appears in my mind. I don’t really focus too much on the “process”. I simply paint what is conceived in my mind, in order to document what it is that I feel. But you’re right, there is something more to these portraits then just the superficial elements. My paintings are like diaries, I think… that visually document what it is that I feel at certain moments of my life. But, I’m not thinking of how much of myself I’m revealing through my work… and my paintings may reveal something to me later, that I myself am not aware of at this time.

The intricate and shiny rhinestone glasses in so many of your portraits are appealing to my yes. What do they symbolize?

I try not to focus on the symbolic meaning of things, because it really doesn’t matter to me whether or not it makes any sense, when the individual elements are picked apart. What does matter is, that the imagery all together, captured what I was feeling, when I painted it… because it’s really what I’m feeling, that I’m trying to preserve, and convey to others. But, I think that the “bling” heart shaped glasses, can mean something different to different people. I like to imagine that the rhinestone-encrusted glasses are like windows that allow my characters to peek into our world, with great fascination. I suppose that the glasses can represent hope, and the best of things yet to come. I try not to focus on the symbolic meaning of things, because it really doesn’t matter to me whether or not it makes any sense, when the individual elements are picked apart. What does matter is, that the imagery all together, captured what I was feeling, when I painted it… because it’s really what I’m feeling that I’m trying to preserve, and convey to others.

Is the way you were brought up, as a minister’s son, affect the way you process your work? Any social messages within your work with regards to your upbringing?

I’m sure that the art I create, has some sort of influence from my upbringing, because the way I was brought up is part of who I am. But, I’m not consciously trying to preach a message. My intent of creating art is not that at all. I’m not very good with expressing myself with words. So I truly want… and have a genuine need, to express myself through the art I create… a need to capture and communicate the way I feel to others, because my words don’t do that.

What is next for you?

I’ll have work included in “Paradigm Shift“, which is a group show curated by Nicholas Brown, of Keane Eyes Gallery.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t know, a lot could happen in 5 years… hopefully still doing what I love, which is creating art.

Anything you can tell our audience that you have not said in interviews before?

I probably haven’t said a whole lot, of what I want to say. The past couple of years have been sort of weird for me. I’ve been occupied with things in my personal life. So, I haven’t been able to show all that I feel, I’m capable of doing by now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to progress deeper into the art I create, in the near future. Then I’ll have more to say!

About Author

Having interviewed over 150 artists from around the world over the past three years has been a wonderful experience. I have learned so much from the art community. I live and breathe art, literally. Art is my oxygen. Art is my passion. I am also a Mother to 2 teenagers living in New York City. As you could imagine, I wear many hats. I wouldn't have it any other way.


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