b. 1977, South Korea

Sung-Ha An Biography

Since 2000, Sung-Ha An has painted half-smoked or thrown away cigarette butts scattered around her studio in a realistic way. An earned her BFA and MFA in Painting from Hongik University, Seoul in 2001 and 2004, respectively.

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The artist looks for the subject that she wants to paint and stages it a little bit to take a close-up shot of it, which is then transferred to the canvas. It is only through this close-up image that the viewer is exposed to the details of pieces of crumpled cigarettes piled up together or crushed in dirty ash water. Here, we find the distorted portrait of modern man who is cast into the troubled life, as is illustrated by Fernand Leger(1881-1955)’s argument on the personification of the close-up detail.

In this way, An’s work creates a kind of emotional appeal that cannot be achieved by a realistic expression as vivid as the real thing. Therefore, it maintains a clear distance from the cold image of the mechanical and precise depiction of Hyperrealism painting that forces the viewer to focus only on what he sees. As the spiritual consolation of a puff of smoking is sweet while it is bitter to the tongue and harmful to the body, the cigarette, as a symbol for modern society, is an ambivalent subject for the artist. This is also applied to her other subjects such as the candy that she has painted since around 2004 and the cork stopper that began to appear in her recent paintings. 

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