Images by: Ben Tilley

Text by: Becki Burrows

Issue name: The Far East Issue


Anna (Han) is an artist from South Korea. She was born just outside of Seoul and currently resides in Cheongju, South Korea. She's gaining a healthy amount of recognition from the press within her country.

 - How did you get into the arts?

I was a shy kid who liked to be alone to draw and it ended up that was what I was good at it! And so I got serious about what I was doing.

 - Do you find that you are influenced by your current surroundings?

I was definitely influenced by Korea and Korean culture as a child. But after I came back to Korea (Anna studied in Canada for several years) I felt that I could take time to catch up on the culture of Korea. It’s hard to say how my work has been influenced by Korea but Korea ‘inspires’ my work for sure. As my work deals with space and place, even a new landscape inspires me. Active Korean people are also inspiring.

 - How do you feel as a ‘young’ artist in Korea at the moment?

I feel that I am in the right place. Asia has taken it’s own place in the contemporary art scene and Korea is definitely a part of it. Before – it seemed that Korea was deteriorating young passionate and talented artists by authoritarianism and the hierarchy system that exists within the art world. But the new generation has been influenced by art from all over the world. Potentially the art scene will become more international. That makes me excited about being in Korea. I didn’t see much ‘change’ in New York whilst I was there…New York is slowing down.. just look at China for example!

 - How do you feel about the most recent North and South episode?

The episode has always been there. The problem is South Koreans are too immune to these issues, and the problem is of the west and other cultures (mostly advanced western countries) making a big deal in the media – encouraging the tension between the North and the South. Of course when we see some “happenings” between the North and South, we get worried but not so much as to affect our daily lives. People knew that it wouldn’t get uglier than what just happened! However, Korean people are aware that the Korean War isn’t over yet

 - Who should we be looking out for from Korea?

There are so many arenas for artists in Korea. Great museums and galleries, many government supported residencies, and many talented artists…however, there are not many non-artists who enjoy contemporary art. That would be the biggest difference between Western culture and Korea. Compared to this expansion of the art scene, Korea lacks the audience and collectors due to fast growth. There is a new term called Korean Pop, and that genre has shown great success internationally. They are usually young artists who paint Korean/International pop culture. Also, there are many artists coming back here after they studied art from Europe and America. Their work is also very refreshing.

 - Do you find it hard being a female artist in Korea?

It’s not about me being female in Korea, it’s more about being a female wherever. Not many female artists survive as an artist internationally compared to male artists. Yes, Korea is still a very male dominated society, but you don’t feel it much in the art world. But still outside of the art world, I feel how male dominated society is. It’s not easy to be female and satisfy all the female idealisms especially in Korea.

 - So… what’s your art about?

A place can be familiar or unfamiliar. Each individual has different memories and experiences around the places and spaces passed through and inhabited. Having lived in many places and moved frequently, I question the meaning and changing perception of a place. In my installation I would let viewers travel within the space to experience colours and composition. I am using formal geometric abstraction to play with the relationship between illusion and light. The experience of the viewer is an essential goal of the work. I am interested in the capabilities of using an infinite system through the use lines, color, and surfaces that come together in the space intuitively. My installation brings attention to the physical environment but also flirts with an imagined architectural space. Disruptions within the installation make the viewer aware of the physicality of the interior.

 - What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you do?

Being an artist isn’t easy. It requires patience and strong self-belief. Korea is a land of opportunity for me. I recently had a solo show in my hometown which was my first since I came to Korea. Even if I go to the countryside of America, I wouldn’t get that much attention because I am a minority as a foreigner (and there are too many like me) – and obviously they have a right to support their locals. But, when I had a show here, I had considerable attention from the press! They were interested in me because I was International but also a part of the local scene. Keep your passion. Believe in it. Sitting in your studio won’t give you an answer. Time has changed. Be out there and follow your heart!