Chaotic beauty: interview with Kim Byungkwan

This style of painting you would recognize always. It’s different, messy, emotional, dark and bold. Kim Byungkwan, was born and lives now in Seoul, Korea. After graduating Hnasung University he forgot about his passion for a while. Finally, Kim started painting again and become the finalist of planned exhibition on a gallery in Seoul. “That was the first solo exhibition of my life in 2011.” – told to me Kim. With several other awards, Kim is also popular on artsy and social websites. I believe that some of you are familiar with his project already. However, this time my goal was not to show you his famous works again but to get more insights about the author and his perception. Enjoy!

When and how you started painting? 
I’m sure cartoon is most of little kids fantasy world. But as a young boy, I was into it beyond your imagination. I spent most of my days to draw favorite cartoon characters or entire cartoon. I think from the beginning, pop-culture become an important code of my work.  However to become a cartoonist was never my dream. I always have a sense of delight when I draw something, and I keep drawing like crazy. 

I could say you have a very strong and clear style of painting. How did you find it, and why did you choose this one? 
While in college, I was enthusiastic in Willem De Kooning and Francis Bacon.  I couldn’t sleep at all for being fascinated by their e-pression mode and technique.  Their strokes are energy itself and I feel like they done it as there’s no second chance and any excuse.  I was influenced on them by nature, and they were a good teacher of mine. That lies at the foundation of my work. My style has been formed with being mixed pop-culture code surrounding me by nature through developing my work. 

What kind of emotions are you trying to express through your painted portraits? What message you are sending to others with your artworks? 
I draw famous person like a politician or an actor/actress.  Doing so, I try to extract unfamiliarity from the person who is familiar to everybody.  You can feel the unfamiliarity not from alien which you have never seen before, but from the things which you know well. The unfamiliar image I draw affects to break the way we see the things usually. I think that one of the important functions of art is to show the new-vision to the world. 

You seem as the person who is bored of the repetition in the world and the same things that we see, feel and experience. Why do you think we need that factor which brings something totally different and new to us? 
I despise the regular phenomenon rather then hate. Because these regular phenomenon implant the same vision of the world to everybody.  Uniformity could be the worst thing. 
For example, the image of ‘James Dean’ and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ is gradually fixed.  That is from having permanent repeatability.  I think we have few methodology to be refreshed, which we escape from permanent paradigm by breaking off or rupturing the repeatability. 

Would it be right to say, that a true artist always desires and feels a need of something new and different? 
Something new doesn’t always face to the future but you can extract it from the image of past.
New things which the artist is requested are discovery of new rather then creativity. 
It is important that the artist must be trained to interpret the world in different way.
If we trained well, then everything must be new or refreshed by nature. 

In many poetic writings, we always discover that the routine is killing the creativity and passion. Do you agree? Why? 
I agree with that some but not all in this decade. We already have system for creativity in our routine.  For example, network is one of these.  Now I can gather the data or communicate with others without huge energy. If you have enough passion for creativity, you can add another life in your routine. 

Some of artists can create art at night, or in early morning. Does the time period matters to you somehow? Why? 
It’s not that important to me. Because I do my work whenever I want to, and it happens anytime random. 

What is the biggest challenge for you in the process of creating art? 
I want to make some piece that people get the new visual experience and never forget. And that kind of impression which shows to the people the way of new methodology of vision, I hope, affects the vision of world of people’s. That’s one of my objective. I don’t know if it’s possible but still It’s my dream. 

Edward Hopper once said: “More of me comes out when I improvise.” Can you relate this quote to yourself?  
I completely agree with you. In fact, my work process is just like that.  As soon as I get a subject, I draw the image without any sketch. I want to extract the shape never designed by doing so. 
The planing prevents you from some mistake, but blocks some accidental happenings at the same time. It produces a piece trapping people inside of controlled world by artiest. Of course there are lot of great pieces with elaborated plan.  It’s all about style, I think.

Text Edited by Melissa Searle

The Highlight of the week: darkness of Alejandra Sáenz

Graphic designer from  Buenos Aires, Argentina Alejandra Sáenz, who also Artist on Tumblr, creates dark, mysterious and sharp illustrations. Even though I have chose to showcase only black & white works, she has some very beautiful and colorful artworks as well. You can check them out here. 

Weekly highlight: Superheroes by Andrei Nicolescu

Illustrator, architect, painter and graphic designer Andrei Nicolescu (who is also an artist on tumblr) has presented to us his great project called “Superheroes”. Romanian artist, based in Bucharest, showcased famous superheroes in a different way. The illustrations itself reminds me a little bit of cubism. I, honestly, think that it is a very nice way to illustrate something that has been illustrated sooo many times already. You can check out for more of his artworks here.  

Weekly highlight: a “CLOSE” project by Evelyn Bencicova

In Berlin based photographer Evelyn Bencicova, who is also an artist on tumblr, amazed me with her new project, called “CLOSE”. I chose her as the first artist to be in our new rubric “Weekly Highlight”. “Close” is all about the vulnerability and support, about our nudity (of our inside where emotions and fears are). I like the coloring of the project: cold and neutral for the idea itself. Amazing project!

A little magnificent world: interview with Dina Belenko 

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used your toys to build and create a scenario? For example, as far as I remember, I liked to create cities with lots of houses, streets, and people (some of them were teddy bears, of course) and then I would imagine that the city experiences a natural disaster like something from the “Godzilla” movie. If you did something like that, Russian artist Dina Belenko should successfully bring you back to your childhood. “Prongs of the fork can become a dark forest; powdered sugar can turn into a snowfall.” – said Dina to me, when I asked her to describe the photography style she’s doing. Dina transforms various items and creates a gorgeous world or situation that she can capture with her camera. “It’s not only about transformations, it’s about the way everything is connected in the small world set around us” – she elaborates her thoughts to me. It is, indeed. And I was very curious about how she decides what situation she wants to create and capture; how she sees the world through her eyes. So I asked her several questions, and now, finally, I can present the answers to you.

You’re focusing on a photographic style that explores the large world through small items. How did you find yourself in such style of photography?
When I began studying photography, I tried various genres: landscapes, portraits, street. Eventually I understood that what interests me lies not in tracing some events and retelling stories of some happenings, but in creating tales of my own and the easiest way to do this is when you have control over all the objects in your shot. You may see yourself as a director that giver orders to cups and cookies.

Your art requires a lot of creativity because you have to create the situation by yourself with various things. How do you decide which of them are you going to use?
I always make a sketch before shooting. It’s not usually detailed, but it helps to define the topic, location and mood, as well as to grasp the overall composition and required objects. I try to keep only the most needed things in the frame, those that would work for the shot, and get rid of all I think as unnecessary. Somehow I feel that the question “Why do I need this thing?” is very important. If the object doesn’t become a part of the story and is not affecting the composition in any way, then maybe the shot will be better off without it.

Why do you think it is actually important to be capable of seeing the world differently?
I think it’s really fascinating: all these connections between things, their small transformations, their secret life and even simple comparisons in a “what does it look like” game help us understand how everything is set up. How does our mind work to find these connections? How does the world build them? You may imagine yourself as an explorer, like David Livingstone, in a world of inanimate objects. I don’t really know if it has any real importance, but anyway, it’s very interesting.

Which emotion is the hardest to express through art? Why?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I feel that the subtler an emotion is, the harder it is to express through art. Anyone can imagine such basic emotions as happiness, anger, amazement, fear or grief. But when it comes to mixed feelings which are difficult to explain, it becomes rather complicated. This “cocktail” is very hard to express. Yet look what actors do – they always come up with something: the pose, look, turning of the head, and we can understand everything without words. I think that such things can be done for any emotion in photography as well.

Is there any art form or artwork itself that you do not appreciate? Why?
Hmm, it’s hard to tell. There are things I prefer to others and there are genres that I don’t personally like. But I think that if there is some beautiful work in any of these genres, I am able to appreciate it. I don’t like works that simply trace the reality (like documentary) without altering it. One can simply look out of the window to see the real world. Something new, created not by the real state of things, but by the hand of the artist, is far more interesting.

How do you see and imagine photography in 10 - 15 years?
I don’t know much about the state of things in other genres to make predictions, but I hope that there will appear more authors, who practice still-life. I mean not only those who take beautiful compositions with flowers and fruits (though this also requires a lot of work), but also those, who try to make their still-life shot conceptual, metaphoric, narrative. Those who tell stories. Like, for example, Catherine MacBride or Dan Cretu. This is a rather young genre, and it will be really great, if more authors like them appear.

What do you value in your life most and why?
Being able to do what you like and being able to learn to become better. I belong to the kind of people who think that their work is themselves. That’s why I think that the job you like and do well is the most important thing to be.

What is your biggest dream at the moment?
Honestly? Maybe it’s to become the best in my field. I know it’s a long and hard way, and that I’m standing at it’s very beginning, but everyone has to start from something. This dream may never come true, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try, right?

How do you spend your leisure time and how does it help you to remain inspired?
The best way to keep yourself inspired is to do something new every day to receive new experiences and impressions. You are out of ideas and don’t know what to shoot? Just ask yourself: “What have I never done before or haven’t done in a long time?” You can ride a bicycle, bake a cake, blow huge soap bubbles, go fishing, learn to juggle, try to fold a horse from a piece of paper, play football, swing on swings, find an old computer game and replay it, even reread a favorite book. These may sound childish, bud they bring so much joy! This really helps to overcome the crisis and gives inspiration. For example, I never skated on roller skates – I’m keeping it for a rainy day.

Edited by Melissa Searle 


Our first interview after a long time: colorful portraits by Elena Pancorbo

My attention was attracted by these realistic portraits through their gentle color play and unique presentation of the art itself. After few minutes of searching through her work and discovering more and more portraits, I checked the name; Elena Pancorbo, a Spanish freelance illustrator who has many followers and fans on various social websites. Alright, I thought, that is what I was looking for to restart my interviews. Something that makes me feel inspired and amazed. Immediately, I wrote her a short letter presenting Republic X and myself. She was naturally friendly and someone who I thought would be an honor to have an interview with. And it was. Finally, guys, I present to you this short discussion with the lovely Elena. I hope you enjoy it! 

When did you start painting and drawing?
Since I can remember. I remember drawing on blackboard at school, corners of my notebooks when I finished high school I decided to fully devote myself to painting, and I wanted to learn and see how far I could get.

I made a top module illustration course and am currently doing a career in fine arts.

Why did you choose to create portraits? Why not landscapes, or cityscapes?
My preferred technique is pastels, I am moved by the skin tones, the brightness of the eyes, fleshy lips. I like to portray people’s feelings and fears. I could include the landscape in conjunction with the human figure, but time is something that I discard.

Is it hard to find the right portrait for you to paint/draw?
I would say no. I always look for stereotype pictures, tones, lights and glitter, but sometimes I propose complicated and impractical orders. It is due to mere photo detail to interpret whether I use it or not… not having the right quality for example.

You always include very warm, complimentary and, at the same time, different colors. Why?
As I said earlier, I like working with skin tones. I attempt to make my work have a warm and harmonious air, I like the pastel colors and earth tones.I avoid using muted colors too, when I have to paint something a dark I use a dark shade or use many shades that lead me to a colorful shade.

Did you ever predict that your works would attract such a big attention from around the globe?
Yes, I thought of the time when I was exposed to the world through social networks, internet or any physical exhibition of my work.

I find my work a great way to give purpose to it.

I never considered that my taste for painting was a hobby, which is why I show it because I would like to dedicate this professionally and people opine about, either for good or bad.

Let’s talk more about you. What are the biggest values in your life?
As a person I value sincerity and humility. One can really put your feet on the ground and concentrate on something that is ignored.

Moral support is important for me to have pillars in life.

As an artist, working and persevering constancy. If you can do something well in life should be done every day.

How do you see yourself in… let’s say 5 years?
I honestly do not know. My life has changed so much in just one year that to venture to look beyond the short-term terrifies me.

Usually I never liked making future plans or planning too far in advance, 80% of the possibilities that I see are failures.

What do you think you miss mostly in your life at the moment?
I am at a good stage in which I am lucky to study what I love and devote myself to it entirely.

But you can never know the twists and turns of life.

What, according to you, would be the biggest threat for loosing motivation in something?
Lack of time. To have it removed or lose it or have to use it in something that requires my attention more.

Edited by: Melissa Searle 

Accumulation of Disorder by Lionel Smit 

Lionel Smit was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1982, he started developing and exhibiting straight after art school at Pro Arte Alphen Park. He now lives and works in Cape Town. He is best known for his contemporary portraiture executed through monumental canvasses and sculptures. Smit exhibits locally in South Africa where he is considered one of the countries youngest investment artists. He is currently exhibiting and on art fairs in Amsterdam, Germany, India, Miami, Monaco, London and Hong Kong. Over the past 10 years he has established a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Graff Delaire wine estate. Smit’s painting has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, where it was chosen as the ‘face’ of the BP Portrait Award 2013. He was recently honoured with a Ministerial Award from the Department of Culture for Visual Art and a highlight of his career has been the publication of one of his paintings on the cover of Christie’s Auction Catalogue.

Metal Lion sculpture by Selçuk Yılmaz 

This is just amazing and breathtaking! This Turkish artist has created a majestic metal lion sculpture from 4,000 piecies of hammered metal. 

I feel it: bronze heart sculpture by Barbora Maštrlová

"I feel it" is a great and detailed bronze sculpture of human heart by artist Barbora Maštrlová, based in Prague. Barboba had her own exhibition  in 2009 and numerous collective ones, as well. 

Lips, blood and weird sexiness: illustrations by Amber Louise  ll Artist On Tumblr

Originally, Amber Louise is a make up artists from Sydney, Australia. However, as she says: “traditional art is my one true love”. You can buy her brilliant work on Society6 or check her tumblr blog here.

Always And Ever Is Never Enough by Jeff Austin 

Jeff Austin is a Chicago based artist and musician. One of his art installation, likes this one, connect detailed work and nature. looove it!

Rock & Animals by Cocolia

Cocolia is graphic design studio who develop corporate identity, graphic communication, art direction, editorial, web, illustration, and art projects.

Dream by  Bogdan Tomashevskiy

Ukrainian artist Bogdan Tomashevskiy creates detailed sculptures that are hanging on the walls. I mostly liked this one, called “Dream”. Looking for a while at the sculpture it kind of reminds me of a bunch of segments that we tend to dream. 

Handmade collages by Molokid 

Molokid is the alter ego of this freewheeling, rather off balance graphic designer of Buenos Aires. He finds a way to escape from the daily routine through his handmade collages. These act as an outlet, in which he works relations of forms, colours and textures. In his collages, Molokid seeks to construct and to destroy morphologic relations between the elements that interact in the composition, looking for a dialogue between the parts that shape the whole of the artistic piece. Vintage magazines, paper clippings, cutting elements and glue replace computers. It´s all about leaving the comfort that digital retouch programs offer and returning to the handcrafted thing. This way, manual experimentation is prioritized over conceptual subject matter. His work has been displayed in art galleries in Buenos Aires, and abroad.


Korean artist Horyon Lee’s pieces are classified as paintings, although they look much closer to photography. The suggestive and dynamic of his overlapping images, skirt flirts in this case with a highly erotic component, make them visually delightful. 

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