For Los Angeles-based artist Hiejin Yoo, painting is much more than an act of creative practice, instead describing her process like writing in “an intimate journal and meditations on self discovery,” she tells It’s Nice That. Combining both personal experiences and details from the world around her, the result is a body of work that is touching in its detail, however simple the objects she is painting may be.
Following her studies at Seoul Women’s university and the Art Institute of Chicago, Hiejin recently completed an MFA at the University of California. Evidently spending time really getting to know her own practice and point of view on the world, each painting by the artist “contains things that remind me of my personal experience and has a story that I want to tell, so I zoom in to the focal point and crop the parts that I don’t need.”
The narrative of these paintings develops from Hiejin’s own “brief diary of daily life,” she explains, “and it is the everyday, mundane things that inspire me most.” Therefore Hiejin’s works jump between landscape works of neighbourhood environments, the opening to a bathroom scene, or a beach. Her figures are often just white outlines, which we like to assume is the artist’s representation of the memory that’s inspired it. This stylistic approach also allows the viewer to place themselves in the painting too, wondering who it is she’s drawn the figure of, or, who it would be sitting next to them if it were a painting of their own lives.
“I strive to make each of my paintings a reflection of my perception of the moment,” elaborates the artist, on the ideas behind her works. “Since these ordinary moments have been so strongly etched on my consciousness, each moment of my life becomes an event and a personal history as a soon as I express my daily life as a painting,” she continues.
Consequently, Hiejin’s work, especially when seen collectively, shows how often you can forget massive moments in life and only remember a particular feeling or minute detail of daily life. “The memories are telling me something about what I remember in my life when I work and interact with them," she concludes.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.