Artist Hiejin Yoo embodies the term ‘global citizen’. “I was born in Germany but grew up in South Korea,” she explains. After completing a BA at Seoul Women’s University, Hiejin moved to the US in 2011 to study painting and drawing at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After completing first a BFA and a post baccalaureate at the school, Hiejin upped sticks again, this time heading west to Los Angeles. “Each place has very different environment and I am not afraid of moving to new cities,” she tells us. “Being in a new place gives me fresh ideas and experiences. Sometimes people tell me they can see LA colours in my paintings since I live in LA.”
“I started to paint when I was seven years old,” Hiejin tells It’s Nice That of her beginnings as an artist. “My parents got married and then they moved to Germany for ten years to study in school. My mother wanted to teach me music, painting, or ballet, but I was only interested in painting and drawing.”
Currently a second year graduate student at UCLA, Hiejin says “I’ve been making a lot of works in my studio and had some group shows in LA.” Last year, Hiejin exhibited her works in a solo show at LA’s Kopeikin gallery titled The Traces of memories. With titles such as I like your butt and When the bra has a front hook, The way I take protein everyday to make my hair grow and Treadmill, make me run please, Hiejin’s paintings take a comic, absurd look at life’s inconsequential moments, from post-work naps to crises of confidence in the gym.
Hiejin’s paintings grow from journal entries – “I do write a short diary everyday and some of those short sentences become paintings” – and the world around her. “Everyday mundane things inspire me the most,” she admits. Her unusual crops might suggest that Hiejin works from photographs, but as the artist explains, that’s not always the case. “Sometimes, but I always change the colours because I choose colours depending on my personal feelings of that specific time and place. Every painting has one story that I want to tell, so I zoom in to the point and crop the parts that I don’t need.”
On the most important thing she’s learnt so far, Hiejin comments that “I paint whatever I want to and enjoy the time”. No doubt counting down the hours until UCLA Graduate Art Open Studios on 3 June, she’s planning to enjoy her summer holiday in Chicago “and keep making many works!”