Chanmi Heo(WOOSON GALLERY)
Chanmi Heo draws attention to small and trivial things discovered in cityscapes and captures her observation of their subtle movements in paintings. She presents an interesting visual variation by making a large painting with an abstract landscape, and then placing a small canvas over it, which depicts detailed images of small entities that look as though they have been zoomed in. Through these paintings, the artists urges us to notice things in the city that we can miss carelessly.
Busan-based artist Chanmi Heo (b. 1991) concentrates on capturing small, banal, and seemingly unimportant things and motifs from the city life, such as weeds nestled between sidewalks, magpies sitting on a construction rebar, and manhole lids on paved roads. In Heo’s work, there is a poetic place for things that are neither socially approved nor pushed out, neither ideologically determined nor representative of any purpose or even any intention. They are fleeting, fragile, unattractive, and evoke the ephemera of personal existence, while also expanding into a social context of anonymous objectivity gained through poetic arrangement.
In most of Chanmi Heo’s works, motifs with specific formative characteristics such as humans, animals, and plants are arranged in stable compositions with geometric motifs such as furniture, rebars, and concrete blocks, creating a simple yet firm balance. 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.
A closer look at her works reveal that movements of events that are so small and fine to be recognized, like still scenes in a dream, are subtly implied in her paintings. For example, her works focus on capturing small and banal objects in urban life, such as weeds that grow between sidewalks, magpies sitting on construction rebars, and manhole lids on concrete roads. As such, her paintings become poetic places and stages occupied by anonymous beings that are not socially recognized, nor alienated or isolated, nor fit with the framework of standards or concepts that represent a purpose or intention. Furthermore, while their existence expands into a social context through anonymous objectivity acquired through poetic arrangement, there is a constant reminder on how vulnerable and ephemeral these beings are as individuals.
Heo’s oeuvre is characterized by a monotonous, stationary state that transcends time, but what she really wants to convey is the subtle actions and energy of minor characters in the world who are seemingly calm, invisible and insignificant. The subtle nuance on their vulnerable, ephemeral, and restricted life and the trite and trivial details that go almost unnoticed are given very important meanings in this quiet micro-narrative and reveals the hidden aspects of a firm, true, and indispensable reality.