[Herald Design Forum 2018] Breathing life into plastics: Choi Jeong-hwa

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Sept 15, 2018 - 13:13
  • Updated : Sept 15, 2018 - 13:13

“Your heart is my art,” designer and installation artist Choi Jeong-hwa said. “Public art is about making memories and experiences for everyone.”

At a lecture titled “Life Life” at the Herald Design Forum 2018 on Saturday, Choi explained the inspirations and the thoughts behind his works.

Installation artist Choi Jeong-hwa speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2018 at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, Saturday. (Lee Sang-sub / The Korea Herald)

The artist is widely known as a master of the kitsch. Using plastics as his main medium, he puts together everyday objects made of cheap plastic, such as plastic baskets of vivid colors, turning them into installations.

“Art is born through everyday life and goes back to it,” he said. “I often pile up objects high. This was inspired by what people do at traditional markets. (The storeowners there) are the masters of space utilization.”

The installation artist also highlighted his public art projects, the type of artworks that involve public participation. In Helsinki, Finland, for instance, he led a project where children could participate in the making of an installation art piece in a public square.

The children had fun putting plastic pieces together and creating a new shape. Gathered together, the result was a huge art piece. Artmaking does not have to be grandiose, Choi said.

“(For those projects) rather than considering myself as a designer or an artist, I think of myself as a mediator, like a shaman in a way,” he said. “I like the title more, too.”

“Alchemy” by Choi Jeong Hwa is shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as part of “Megacities Asia” exhibition in 2016. (Courtesy of the speaker)

Asked how he feels when the public does not recognize his works displayed on the streets, Choi said, “If people don’t feel anything that is feeling something anyways.”

“Art is in the end, a bait and a hook. Everyone feels different things (when seeing art). That’s the answer, you just have to trust yourself,” he said.

A major exhibition of his works, “Choi Jeong-hwa: Blooming Matrix,“ is currently underway at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s branch in Samcheong-dong under “Choi Jeong-hwa: Blooming Matrix.”

By Im Eun-byel (