//Words: José Berrocoso//

From a very early age, CHO Yea Jae has been a self-taught Artist. She has always been learning by reading many Art books on a constant quest for mastery of sketching, drawing and painting techniques. At times, throughout her life, in order to validate her know-how and continue to develop her own style, she has participated in art classes with renowned international professors, mainly at the University of Hong Kong. Her masterful work includes technical excellence and skills in the application of pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, oil, acrylic & multimedia and more recently Korean traditional painting.

City Pages Magazine: When did you begin to develop a passion for Art?
Cho Yea Jae: Whenever I have this kind of question I always seem to have a difficult time to answer it accurately to let others understand ‘my life with Art’ well enough.
It is hard to say when I began to develop a passion for art in particular. It is a matter of how to define the meaning of ‘a Passion for Art’ or an ‘Artist’. “I was happy every time I created something. Whether it was writing, acting, dancing, painting or drawing, I sought to express my feelings and my own thoughts”. One thing I am sure of is that I always wanted to be an Artist. I have painted since I was very young and always wanted to paint more. I have lived my life enjoying the Arts, working in Arts, creating Art even though my life journey didn’t let me do it easily.

CP: Do you remember the first piece of Art you made? What was it and how old were you?
CYJ: This is related to the previous question, it is not easy at all for me to define the first piece of Art that I made. I have painted since I was very young, most of all I still play with Art like a child at play. Remember when we were children and played with our favorite toys, pets, ants, water on the ground, and sand on the beach… without knowing time flies, feeling hungry or thirsty. What I remember well is the first painting that was sold at my first exhibition in 2000 in Hong Kong.

CP: Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
CYJ: My life journey such as numerous experiences and countless choices that I made, all became the elements of who I am now. With one missing out I would not be who I am today and what I paint now.
I have encountered various people, cultures, histories/stories and landscapes during my many travels… I also lived in many countries throughout my life (in fact I lived half of my life overseas). What I learnt from this life journey is that each place has its own charm and colour, not only Koreans but also other people have a strong attachment to their own culture and history. All of this is part of the personal worldview of describing myself as a citizen of the world.

CP: Tell us more about your creative process? What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
CYJ: Painting minimal means that I must create as minimal an image as possible although I have so many things to say and draw on canvas after the long tortuous journeys of my mind and soul. Procedure reducing and omitting the unnecessary sketches and colors on the imaginary canvas in my mind is a very similar act to simplify us at a certain time in our lives to pursue happiness and wisdom. I believe that the ‘More minimal it is, a more philosophical view is hidden.’
Developing new techniques, new textures, and my own brushstrokes is not only essential to having my own artistic identity but also very important to express myself the most through my Minimal Art. On top of this, I believe experimentation with durable colors and researching higher quality materials is a moral responsibility as an artist.
Finding a balance between my art and myself is also another important element of my creative process, just as important as developing a process to get to the perfect result. For example, I love to take slow strolls in nature when I feel drained by people or by busy surroundings. Only nature can heal me completely according to my life experience. It calms me, pampers me, and relaxes my five senses. The sound of waves, the soft and tender breeze, birds flying here and there with funny sounds, the shining silvery blue sea, a green tree with crawling cats, a honey bee with its round cute hip up in the sky, flitting from flower to flower… I get energy from nature and then it will all happen automatically. Loosen up, smile in my heart, and my brain becomes relaxed. From within and then looking around, just enjoy the moment and my surroundings, and my imagination takes me further by sketching the images in my mind.

CP: How would you describe your paintings in your own words?
CYJ: The few words that describe best my work and my style are: Minimal, conceptual, contrast and balance. I believe that the more minimal my work is, the more philosophical viewpoints it conceals.

CP: Do you intend your work to challenge the viewer? What does your work aim to say?
CYJ: Once my creations are out of my hands, what people feel about my work is no longer under my control. It is entirely up to them. While some of my paintings also attempt to woo & challenge the viewer, I also wish to give my audience a break from this hectic world and share a moment of respite and abstraction.

CP: What is your philosophy in matters of Art?
CYJ: Philosophy, psychology, and science help me understand the world by applying logic and intellect. Ultimately, art and philosophy are more intertwined than we think. Art needs a philosophical focal point to delve deeper. Philosophy needs artistic flexibility to think and open up to the outside.

CP: What challenges did you face in starting a career as an international Artist?
CYJ: My first exhibition was in 2000 in Hong Kong. After overcoming many life obstacles I finally managed to become a full time artist in 2010 before having a featured exhibition in early 2011. Since then I have been featured in several solo exhibitions and also joined group exhibitions in various different countries. Every little step that I took as an international artist has never been easy on me. It is the big challenge and adventure of my life.

CP: You have exhibited across Asia, in the US, in France. When in the GCC countries?
CYJ: If given the opportunity I would love to show my works in Kuwait and other GCC countries with my honor.

CP: What is up next for you?
CYJ: I am currently perfecting my Korean Traditional painting skills to bring unexpected surprises for my next projects. It will show East meets West.

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