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'Costume of the Painter'

BAE JOON SUNG, Costume of the Painter - A. Tadema B.W, 2014. Lenticular, 180 x 120 cm. Image courtesy of Opera Gallery

The titles of my paintings always begin with the Costume of the Painter. The term refers to the ‘costumes’, or illusions, that are painted by the artist, and at the same time, signifies an original vision derived through the eyes of the artist. I have always believed that when an artist paints, his or her eyes caressing over a model, a study, what is perceived through their eyes gives birth to another model in the painting. This painted model, hovering somewhere in the artist’s consciousness, demands in turn that the artist paints again.

This demand springs from the physical and mental state of the artist at the time of painting. Ultimately, the term: Costume of the Painter implies not the costume painted by the artist, but what suddenly happens to the artist while painting the costume.

Moving still life

A painting is inanimate. It stands face to face with animate objects - the viewer, for instance. The attraction of a still life lies not in its quiet, placid nature, but rather in the dynamic energy contained therein. When a painter moves these inanimate objects within a painting, it is still, in consequence, a ‘still life’.


When I was young, my plastic writing sheets meant a lot to me. As a class secretary throughout the six years of my elementary school, and as a kid whose forte was writing, the plastic sheets were something of importance to me that was beyond what other kids could only imagine. So I always had a few of them with me. Despite my competitive streak, I never even once took part in the ‘plastic sheet breaking’ contest that was all the rage at the time; instead, I treasured and took pride in keeping them. Of my precious sheets, the most profound was this kind of ‘transforming plastic sheet’, it had a yellow smiley face flaunting itself right in the center - smiling from one angle, but crying in the next.

That was my first encounter with lenticular in my childhood. 

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