HEO CHANMI: Settlement

2 December 2021 - 4 February 2022
Installation Views
Press release

In most of Heo Chanmi's works, it can be seen that the motifs with specific formative characteristics such as humans, animals, and plants are arranged in a concise, solidly balanced and stable structure on the canvas along with geometric motifs such as furniture, rebars, and concrete blocks. In addition, the heavy physical nature of the motifs and a strong presence of physical entities emphasize a kind of concreteness and objectivity without any descriptive portrayal of their visual arrangement or environmental conditions. The specificity of the motifs (objects and thinking) is further highlighted by the conditions of light, that is, not only daily light such as sunlight or darkness but also the shadow effect that emphasizes the actual location in the real environment. On the other hand, the existence of objects does not lead to an easy-to-understand medium or anecdotal context, but reveals Heo’s careful intention to approach the decisive aspects hidden in the reality that is actually happening in the world by strongly emphasizing the physical specificity of objects and their surroundings. Such an intent is well illustrated in her coloring method, and in particular, the processing method for the delicate and subtle gray tone perfectly harmonizes Heo's vision of a static and calm world of objects that seem somewhat abandoned, forgotten, and alienated. The simplicity of the motifs, seemingly insignificant and immobile passivity, and their clueless loneliness seem to encourage a poetic phenomenon in which objects that come out of the way from the whole are not connected to the assembly.


A closer look at her works would reveal that her paintings delicately suggest movements of small and subtle events that cannot be recognized as if they were a still scene in a dream. For example, the works tend focus on capturing small, cliche, and banal objects in urban life, such as grass located between sidewalk blocks, magpies sitting on construction rebars, and manhole lids on concrete roads. In this way, in her paintings are concentrated poetic places and stages where anonymous beings that are not socially recognized, alienated, or isolated, but at the same time do not meet the framework of standards or concepts representing any purpose or intention.

Furthermore, while their existence expands into a social context through anonymous objectivity which was acquired by being poetically well arranged, there is a constant reminder on how vulnerable and ephemeral they are as individual beings. Heo's oeuvre is characterized by a monotonous state of stop that transcends time, while what she really wants to show is about the subtle actions and energy of minor characters in the world that are seemingly calm, invisible and insignificant on the surface of stability. The little nuance of their vulnerable and ephemeral life of limitation and the almost unnoticed cliche and trivial details are given a very important meaning in this still micro-narrative, telling the hidden aspects of a firm, true, and indispensable reality.


Heo Chanmi born in Busan in 1991 is a young artist just over 30 years old, being the youngest one among the artists introduced by Wooson Gallery for the past decade. However, her attitude in viewing and coping with her contemporaries through her works contains seriousness and sincerity that never falls behind any maestro artist. It is high time to spotlight Heo as we are drawn to and pursue novelties, while trying to attract the attention of the world with shocking events or create newness with a flamboyant appearance without distinguishing genuine newness from not genuine one.


Text © 2021 Lee Eunmi