feeder insider w/ YOMSNIL 염승일
Yomsnil 염승일 has been working as an art director for more than 10 years before deciding to pursue his personal quest as an artist. Having moved from Tokyo to Seoul in 2011, he has expanded his medium and message to become a multi-talented artist, making a change from 2-dimensional characters to 3-dimensional acrylic painted porcelain representations of them. After solo exhibitions in both Tokyo and Seoul, and interesting collaborations, his follower base is rapidly growing and 2015 sees him as a guest speaker at Pictoplasma Berlin Conference, where he will undoubtedly acquire more.
Keywords: artist, porcelain, sculpture, cute, character, alternative, death
This is what feeder would like to know about you:
Character is found in… my mind. I have drawn lots of characters. It is a feedback of my life and thinking. I found that my latest character has shape elements similar to old characters.
Sunday mornings I always… get up late (11 AM, Mon-Sat, 8 AM) and go out for cycling and writing blog articles in a cafe.
It’s been long since I’ve… been in Tokyo. I came back from Tokyo 4 years ago. I did not go back again. I’d like to visit as an artist, by invitation, when I go back. I want to show my artwork to my Japanese friends and old colleagues.
Nature is… in a park, river and mountain. Basically I am a city boy. So I enjoy Nature in the city.
Good music makes me… energetic and groovy. I like Jazz, hip hop and R&B.
A question I keep asking myself is… Why? Why do I do this? Why do people believe that? Why do I want this? I like a fundamental question. It brings me here, in my life.
Through collaborations, one can achieve… output more than extended.
I can easily cook… pastas and fried rice. ^^
3 artists who inspire me… I’d like to mention 2 groups.
Dead artists -> Marcel Duchamp, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol
Living artists-> KAWS, Murakami Takashi, Yokoyama Yuichi
Yomsnil @ Pictoplasma Artist Talk and Group Exhibition: 29 April ~ 3 May in Berlin
Cristina: The first thing that came into my mind when I saw Hafydoll was – how can I have it? Your characters have a wonderful, cute, eerie personality – they are playful and serious at the same time. They draw me into their hollowed eyes, as I’m sure they will do the same with the Pictoplasma 2015 audience. You were amongst the first speakers announced for the conference, and your works are featured in the recently released Pictoplasma Character Portraits (out 30th October 2014), so I’d really like to know, what kind of relationships would you like the viewer to form with your characters?
Yomsnil 염승일: memento mori (remember to die) is a traditional theme of art because the Plot called life is not only a comedy, it is more close to a tragedy. But we want too much stuff and hate each other in life.
I guess the world should be peaceful if we think about our death more.
Variety of artworks by YOMSNIL
C: You’ve been sharing your vision through art for more than 10 years, working as an art director in Tokyo. Your move to Seoul was accompanied by a professional change as well, as you have started to focus on your career as an artist. You’ve expanded your medium from 2-dimensional drawings to 3-dimensional representations of them, and exhibitions soon followed. Was it something you’ve planned ahead or the change was spontaneous?
Y: I had several private exhibitions when I was working for the company in Tokyo, but that time I did not study enough about a language of art. I spent my money renting a gallery. I had only a passion for art, and I did my art by force. It should look like the hobby activity of a designer. I read many philosophy books and studied about art grammar when I decided to be an artist. I received more chances to have an exhibition gradually, ever since I have declared to be an artist and showed my work on web.
C: Your recent exhibitions and collaborations translate into a growing audience and I have to wonder, how do these new connections influence your own perception on your artworks?
Y: I just did what I wanted to show. I like to get ‘Like’ and ‘<3’ on Instagram. I am also a visual slave. And their feedback is a good motivation. I want to tell my thoughts and story, in the same time people influence me. I think I would do my work which they like.
C: Seeing the Yomsnil x Uniqlo – Different but one t-shirt (Artist Charity series) collaboration, I want to ask you: does art play an active role in shaping our society? Should it remind us of the values we want to posses, or art for art’s sake is a more treasured endeavour?
Y: When I finished my job as an employee, I wanted to spend my life more meaningfully, so it was the first time my art was all like an agenda or explanatory note. Entertaining is also important for the audience. I like to make more art for art in my work.
Made in Mullae by Yomsnil – Performance, 2015
C: What is your search about? Where do you find your motives and resolve?
Y: Books. I like biology, genes and social ecology. These days I am studying about ‘cute and sexy’. It is a kind of skill to survive and propagate. I like to write analytic texts about it.
Various Faces by Yomsnil, 2013
C: In a previous interview, when referring to the 3-dimensional porcelain characters you create, you’ve described the 4 steps you take in your work process: “1. forming the shape of the vases, 2. drawing the character-based facial expressions, 3. to having them baked in the kiln, and 4. painting them with acrylic paint”. Various Faces, your 2013 collaboration with Cho Yonghyun and Bak Gwon, has brought to light many shapes and textures in your ceramic work. Are there steps in this process where you’d like to experiment more in the future? Why do artists collaborate?
Y: I love the craft culture and master craftsmen. I traced ceramic and wood masters starting 2 years ago. I also continue this.
Collaboration is extending my thoughts. When I work together with masters, I can jump from my hand and mind.
They bring me one step over the world. Artist collaboration is like a modern company. A company can make big and fast achievements that one man can’t do. It’s the same.
HAFY DOLL by Yomsnil
C: Hafy.org is the home of Happy Alternative Functional Youths, your porcelain characters which come in 6 shapes: diamond-shaped head, heart, rabbit, shit, the ball, and the motif. They speak about genetic diversity, while the hollowed eyes remind us of a short, finite human life. You embed thoughts of death in cute representations, a different approach compared to how western culture usually regards death. Similarly, Takashi Murakami’s recent works are about pain and death and his joyful worlds are now overlaid with urgency in graffiti text. The contrast you achieve is striking and the porcelain evens out all imperfections in discourse. Which Hafy are you and why?
Y: I am the bunny one. You can recognize it from my profile picture. I don’t know why, but I liked it.
The difference between Eastern and Western ways of thinking comes from a difference of the relationship sense. Eastern (East Asian) society analyses family and growth processes more than one’s personality.
I heard in Western culture, people analyse themselves more. It is also a concern with Xun-zi (Chinese Philosopher, the theory that human nature is fundamentally good or bad). Anyway, Eastern people think more about duplicity and alteration than Western people. So they can put various attitudes in one character. It is just my guess.
HAFY DOLL by Yomsnil
C: Pictoplasma website reveals your plans to work in wood and iron, but your site and youtube channel are perhaps the best places to keep track of all your activities. You are no stranger to woodwork: the Happy Nose Stool is absolutely hilarious and Hafydoll includes a wooden part. Browsing your channel, I glimpsed your first stainless steel sculpture, Pagoda, on display at Spacehannam, Seoul, in October 2014. How did you find this new experience, of working with steel? What are your plans for the future?
Y: I changed my work space every year. No longer than 2 years. I can learn new materials and new ways of manufacturing in a new space. I was 1 year and a half in Mullae industrial and art complex. I learned about steel there and I learned wood skill when I shared the work-space with an interior design and architecture majored guy. Surrounding space and people influence me. I always want to make a good synergy and harmony with them. This is also my attitude about collaboration.
I will further my painting and I am going to make a new artwork in a special exhibition with Alain De Botton (http://www.beautyandhappiness.org/) in Cheongju International Craft Biennale, in September.
Plus I will start a new creative director job in a Korean company, from June. I will make the whole brand and space experience with them for clients, including the artist collaboration project. They allowed my art activities and they are even cheering my artist life, because my art activity should make good effect for the job. It is not easy to find a job like this. I think this is also a good chance. My artist earning is not enough for living now, and also I love to make spaces, I think I could feel another worth. It should be another challenge for me.
Meat, Bones, Blood & Skin, 2013 Seoul Monz | Fortune Skull Exhibition
C: Will you tell me a secret?
C: 염승일, I’m still amazed you’ve accepted to have this conversation and I hope we will speak again soon. 감사합니다! :D
Words: Cristina P.