Kayoon was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1997. She studied architecture at the University of Cambridge and painting at Siena Art Institute before returning to England to specialise in portraiture at Heatherley School of Art. She currently works as a figurative painter in Belsize Park, London. She looks to Italian and Korean art as influences in her painting practice.
The spaces in my paintings contain people, but the people aren’t the focus. They sit within the architecture as a part of it, without clear distinction between them and their surroundings. My aim is to create a feeling of calm and grounded spaces.
After completing my architectural degree I lived in Siena for six months to draw and paint. The earthy colours I was surrounded by there were highly influential. I remember being amazed at the ‘Burnt Siena’ colour you could see in the soil as the fields outside the city were being tilled, the same now as it would have been when used by Siena’s medieval masters.
My work is rooted in tradition and academic training the early Italian Renaissance and Korean ‘munbangdo’ paintings are a big influence. Observation is an important element too flesh painted from life grounds the pieces whilst other parts are imagined. Besides the figures in paintings, I enjoy using flat areas of colour and patterns to create a design on
the surface. Perhaps my background in architecture pushes me to build these geometrically; I always strive for balance and harmony in composition. Because of the combination of observed, flat, and patterned elements, the space within the paintings sit somewhere between naturalistic and abstract.
This is something I would like to develop further in my practice. I have recently finished a diploma in figurative painting at Heatherley’s School of Art it has been incredible to learn the craft of oil painting, whilst also training in depicting the human body from life. I feel I have a sturdy technical foundation, but now I find myself thinking more about the concepts and meaning behind what I paint. Motherhood is the theme I wish to immerse myself in. I am just starting to do this by thinking about my own Korean mother and her experience with me as her first child and starting a mixed heritage family.
Photography by Adela Blanco