Chewing over a Sujin piece is the jaw-breaker of figurative artwork. There’s no hiding one in your blazer pocket at break time: this sucker is fist sized. Her designs are the Freudian iceberg of candies; a chewy centre of generational nihilism, wrapped in a tangy sizzle of solitude, layered with the sour sting of sexual aggression, the frolicsome fizz of female empowerment, and quick flash of mandible-splitting violence, all coated with the sweetest kick of playful fashion-conscious character design. The result is a multi-faceted kind of artwork, which brings some introspective sobriety to the genre of character-based design; whilst holding the same moreish appeal as the ice cream truck after school on a Wednesday.
Sujin creates work that comes from her own experiences and feelings, creation takes on the role of therapy and meditation; something that is tangible when absorbing her work. “In my paintings, my characters represent me. I focus on the problems that I feel in my life, it includes sexual problems but also includes so many other problems too.” Sujin applies a sense of the world around her to these introverted obstacles, concerning her artwork with both the political and the personal. “I always think of 'Neglect'. In my life, in my country, in all things surrounding me. There are so many problems always happening and left unsolved. When I drew my girls first, I just drew; but, at some point, I recognized that the girls were me. So, I started to think about why I draw my girls specifically as depressed girls. I had to keep focused on me and I realized that I have inner problems which I've been ignoring. I neglected all my problems for so many years because it's comfortable to; but really, it keeps me down.” The necessity to address internal neglect translates into a real sense of violence in Sujin’s work. Though vulnerable, her characters wield guns and weapons, and threaten while they wallow; a sense of fight accompanies the sense of depression. “These problems are always getting bigger and they destroy everything in the end. It makes me destroy myself. I didn't want to let myself down. I expressed this through my art, slowly. When I expressed my problems, I felt freedom. Even though the problems are still unsolved, I'm trying to show the them to the world. I think it's important to face the your issues. I want to give people a chance to think about their problems which they pretend not to recognize, the problems they have neglected.”
“I HAD TO KEEP FOCUSED ON ME AND I REALIZED THAT I HAVE INNER PROBLEMS WHICH I'VE BEEN IGNORING. I NEGLECTED ALL PROBLEMS FOR SO MANY YEARS BECAUSE IT'S COMFORTABLE TO; BUT REALLY, IT KEEPS ME DOWN.”
Sujin grew up on an island is South Korean called Jeju-do. “I think it's most beautiful place in Korea. When I was 20, I moved Seoul, the biggest city in Korea, to attend the university. My major was visual communication design. When I was in university, I really loved graphic design, but drawing is more natural and fun for me so I started again to make my art. Seoul is a really busy city, On the other hand, Jeju-do is slow and calm. I grow up in both of these really different places.” The contrast of bustle and calm, sweet and sour, erotic and innocent: balances and imbalances, certainly provide some of the appeal in Sujin’s work. “The contrast makes me confused always. This confusion has an effect on my works in that the girls who I draw are always unstable. There are various elements that effect my work, but place has had a strong influence. I'm a very sensitive person so I'm always influenced by the mood of a place. It's really fun to draw pop-culture because it's always changing, unstable. It makes contradictions. There is no right and wrong. So, when I draw different kinds of culture I feel a great release. But at the same time, I just draw what I like and what I think. Popular culture has an influence on me, but after that I make my own culture with my painting.”
“I'M A VERY SENSITIVE PERSON SO I'M ALWAYS INFLUENCED BY MOOD OF THE PLACE”.
The sexual energy in Sujin’s work is another palpable element of her creative expression and provides a lot of the initial impact to her work. “There are so many sexualities that exist. Each person has their own tastes in sex and in art, at least in the art world we don’t have to distinguish so many boundaries. It's really funny thing to represents other people’s tastes and show my tastes also. In my art, feminine sexuality is my taste. I want to express my desire through my art in order to feel free. I can change my sexuality, as well as my artwork in the future because taste always changes. I just want to experience and imagine new things and try to open my eyes to describe diversity. I make my art because I don't want to neglect myself. I face my problems head on and draw what I think is right and true. Most of the problems that I describe are caused by issues related to gender, and before drawing, I have made these problems bigger and bigger, because I didn’t have a way to handle it - The neglect.”
“IN MY ART, FEMININE SEXUALITY IS MY TASTE. I WANT TO EXPRESS MY DESIRE THROUGH MY ART IN ORDER TO FEEL FREE.”
A sense of fighting for her own sexual liberation through diversity really comes across when Sujin talks about this aspect of her work, and quickly, the upholding of her own moral values becomes a key element in her work. “Fighting for women’s rights is really important and we do have to fight; but, on the other hand, it really is that people just require their basic rights. Some people say women have to fight for their rights; but when they act, their behaviour is met with hatred. In Korea especially, so many problems happen. People cover their loathing for women behind feminism. I think they know what they’re doing is wrong. I have heard so many different opinions, so I have to think “what is the right way for me?”. This is the most important question. People just need to do the right thing in their own positions. If something goes wrong, we have to stay and try to solve that, behaving in the right way for us. I think that isn’t just true for women, it is true for humans.” Her success in the art world has given Sujin a voice, which others around her do not have. A positive education and exposure to a range of cultures has led her to believe her art has an important role in female empowerment. “In art world, there is less sex discrimination. Art always makes me think again about all my problems, especially gender issues. Art opens my eyes and my mind. Many of my friends who are not exposed to the art world are surprised when I tell them about gender discrimination and feel that they haven’t experienced it. They don't know how they are being unduly oppressed because it's so natural to them. Thanks to my involvement with art, I know more about discrimination than my friends and I’m grateful for that. I feel really sorry for my friends, and other women, but I have no power to help them directly. The only way to help my friends and others is to show them the problems through my art. I don't want my friends and other people neglect these problems, I want them to know exactly how they are being oppressed. I think it's my role to expose some of these issues through art.”
Sujin’s goal for the coming year is to produce art books, as well as a private show, and will develop her practise further with these goals. If you want to have your own sexually liberated babe-warrior sitting on your mantel piece, you can find her work on the Moosey Art website now.