London Art Spot: Ji Seon Kim

Emptying her vivid imagination onto each large canvas she paints, Ji Seon invites us into a world that resembles this one but truly exists only in her head. With a vibrant palette she works with sweeping brushstrokes, a concern for space and a flair for creating texture in her landscapes. She wants her work to evoke feelings of displacement and loneliness, and the sheer size of the canvas mixed with the deserted scenery does make you realise that there is a massive world out there.

Her recent work draws on inspiration from traditional watercolour painting from her native South Korea and she has a show on in Hoxton at the moment with two other South Korean artists.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Ji Seon talks about a certain beautiful place in London that she would love to paint, tells us where she finds inspirateion for her landscapes and what to expect at her exhibition.

LLO:Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and in which way?
JS: I have enjoyed living in London for the past 6 years. I think London is a really great city in which I have great experiences, in urban life, and historical and natural landscape. This environment in London motivates and inspires my work. It is also easy to access plenty of interesting exhibitions in London. The intriguing shows open up new possibilities of exploring and developing my practice as well.

LLO: Give us an overview of your working process, from initial idea to final painting.
JS: First, I try to decide which kind of space I would like to paint referring to landscapes I remember from my previous travelling experiences and image books, especially travel magazines. After words, I purely use my imagination to describe the place, and paint my imaginary world.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
JS: If I have to choose one painting, it would be “Orange Cliffs and White Crystal”, because I feel that this painting is more realised in connection with the main concept, which is about playing with marks and colours in an imagery landscape.
LLO: You work with a lot of vibrant colours in scenery that would in real life be quite subdued. What does this add to your landscapes?
JS: I am very interested in creating an imaginary landscape in an artificial way, so I always use really bright and powerful colours in my painting.

LLO: Do you find that your South Korean background inspires your work?
JS: I have produced paintings using different aspects of a Korean sense of space and a western sense of perspective. One of the most significant influences is Korean traditional landscape painting, so I have tried to mix between this influence from my background and my understanding of contemporary western art.

LLO: Your latest work revolves around imaginary landscapes. Is there a place in London that you would like to paint using a similar approach and technique?
JS: I really like Holland Park, particularly Kyoto garden. It is a really beautiful place to get inspirations and motivation for my works.

LLO:Other London-based artists you admire?
JS: Peter Doig. His use of colours and his technique are so interesting and impressive.

LLO: You recently finished your BA in Fine Art from Slade. What are your plans for 2011?
JS: I have just started Master course at Slade from this September 2010. The Master at slade is 2-years course, so I will keep continuing to study this course in 2011. Plus, I am plannig to have an exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in July or August, 2011.

LLO: You have an exhibition from 2-23 December at Arch 402 in Hoxton with artists Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim. What can we expect from the show?
JS: When I was a BA student, Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim were MFA students at Slade. At the time, I just thought their works were very interesting, but I couldn’t find any connection between my painting and their works. When we decided to have the show “Imaginary Landscape” at Arch402 and put our works all together, I was so surprised that we do have really a huge connection, which is that our works are coming from our own imagination and delivering viewers into our imaginations, so people can feel and see our imagination world.

LLO: What are you working on now?
JS: I am making a huge imaginary landscape painting as usual. In order to do more challenge with my painting, I am exploring the intersection of abstraction and representation through the imaginary landscape.

Thanks Ji Seon!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

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Passing Through Chinatown

An interesting mix of the Chinese community who live and work in the area, other locals passing through Soho and curious tourists, the atmosphere alone makes Chinatown worth a visit.

There is central London rubbish to step around on the pavement, roasted ducks hanging in windows and the occasional waft of polluted air from dirty alleyways, but there’s also an amazing array of Chinese, Korean, Thai and other Asian goodies in the local supermarkets and corner shops, restaurants with dim sum and buffets galore. Like Banglatown in the East End, the street signs in Chinatown are written in two languages.

I passed through the other day and thought I’d share a few photos from an ordinary Chinatown day.

Dragon

Male Tonic

Duck

Chinatown

Do Not Enter

Shopping in Chinatown

Shoppers in Chinatown

Crispy Duck

Thai Jackfruit

Love in Chinatown

Oriental Delight

Be Health Centre

Magazines

Cigarette Break

Listen to a Londoner: Luiz Hara

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Luiz Hara

Luiz’s London Foodie blog is a well known resource for Londoners looking for a range of delicious meal options, light snacks or unbeatable cocktails. He shares some of his favourites for different occasions for this week’s Listen to a Londoner.

LLO: How long have you lived in London? 
LH:
Since 1992, so 18 very happy years!

LLO: Tell us a bit about your blog – The London Foodie. 
LH:
I started ‘The London Foodie’ in 2009 as a platform to express my gastronomic creativity (much suppressed in my current investment banking role) and my opinions on the London restaurants I visit, but most importantly to get to know and meet other London foodies out there.

It’s been a most rewarding project. Through The London Foodie I learnt about some amazing restaurants and supper clubs I wouldn’t otherwise have visited, met some like-minded people, and started The London Cooking Club at my home.

I eat out a lot and write about these experiences at The London Foodie. Readers can find my reviews by the restaurant index, or by cuisine or location.

My aim is to find restaurants serving outstanding food that will not break the bank, exploiting the full range of nationalities and cooking styles on offer in London.

LLO: How did you become so obsessed with food? 
LH:
Food was always part of our family – my parents were restaurateurs for a while, and my mother had her own Italian restaurant for many years in Brazil after their divorce.

My dad was also an accomplished cook, and would rustle up some fine meals for my three siblings and me when he wasn’t taking us out to some of his favourite restaurants in Sao Paulo. Through my dad I learnt a great deal about Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Syrian and other cuisines from a very early age.

My Japanese grandmother was also a great influence – she lived with us and wound spend her whole day finding the best fish, meat and vegetables in the street markets of Sao Paulo, and cooking the most delicious Japanese-Brazilian meals. When I think of fusion style cuisines I always recall my grandmother.

LLO: You were born in Brazil to Japanese and Italian parents. Where can we find the best Brazilian, Japanese and Italian food in London?
LH: Italian cooking, like Japanese, is all about top quality ingredients and these do not come cheaply. It is impossible to replicate these cuisines in the UK on the cheap, apart from pizza and certain types of pasta. For the best and most affordable pizze in London I would recommend Franco Manca, Rosso Pomodoro and Pizza East. The Riverside Cafe is undoubtedly one of the best Italian restaurants in London but also one of the most expensive.

Other than outstanding Japanese fine dining joints like Nobu and Zuma, an affordable and very authentic Japanese restaurant I love is Asakusa in Mornington Crescent. For top quality sushi without the price tag, Atariya Fishmongers and their small sushi outlet on James Street by Selfridges is also a must.

I have yet to find a good Brazilian restaurant in London. I am however very excited to hear that Jose Barattino of Hotel Emiliano in Sao Paulo will be cooking at Skylon on the Southbank for the Brazilian Festival throughout the summer 2010. The well thought out menu and his cooking showcase the best that Brazil can offer.

LLO: If I only had one night in London and wanted to go off the beaten track, where would you send me to eat and drink?
LH:
There is nothing further from the beaten track than spending an evening eating at one of London’s supper clubs. The opportunity to go into someone’s home, share your table with some interesting Londoners for a fixed donation and bring your own wine is one not to be missed.

There are some amazing supper clubs I would very highly recommend like Fernandez and Leluu in Hackney for great atmosphere and food, Friday Food Club in Blackheath for the best British food in London, Cucina Cinzia in Fulham for really authentic and delicious Tuscan food outside Italy and LexEat! in Shoreditch for their sensational and no-fuss cooking.

LLO: I’m skint, but hungry for something tasty and don’t feel like cooking at home and don’t like chain restaurants. Where should I go?
LH:
There is a misconception that London restaurants are expensive, but due to intense competition and the multitude of cuisines found here, there are some great deals to be had.

I would head to Kingsland Road for some amazing and very affordable Vietnamese food, Song Que and Viet Grill being my favourites.

Along St Giles Street by Centre Point at a place now known as Little Seoul, there is a cluster of excellent value Korean restaurants that will not break the bank. Assa is one of these restaurants, and their lunch special with appetisers, main course and unlimited tea is priced at £5.

For European alternatives, Franco Manca, and its wonderful sourdough base pizza, is also very good value. Also worth a look are the many Turkish and Greek restaurants along Green Lanes with Antepliler being one of the best.

LLO: You just came back from a trip to Vietnam. Where can we get a taste of Vietnamese food in London?
LH:
Kingsland Road, also known as the Pho Mile, would be a good place to start. The best Vietnamese food in London however is not to be found at a restaurant – for a taste of authentic, fine dining Vietnamese cuisine, I would try and secure a space at Fernandez and Leluu for one of their Vietnamese evenings. At £35 for a six-course dinner and BYO, it is also excellent value.

LLO: Best restaurant for vegetarian options in London? 
LH:
My favourite vegetarian restaurant in London is Mildreds on Lexington Street. The quality of ingredients used is always high, it is reasonably priced and with a casual and cosy feel about it which I like very much.

LLO: My boyfriend and I want to go out for a romantic dinner followed by drinks. Where would you send us?
LH:
Skylon, on the first floor of The Royal Festival Hall, is one of the most romantic and glamorous restaurants in London. Chef Jose Barattino is serving 2 & 3 course menus priced at £22 & £25 respectively. The views of the Thames are fantastic and the cocktails second to none.

I would then go for a leisurely stroll along the Southbank towards the Oxo Tower, and up to the top floor for a glass of Champagne at the Oxo Tower Bar.

LLO: What’s the best restaurant in your postcode?
LH:
I live in Islington N1. My favourite restaurant in this neighbourhood is Ottolenghi on Upper Street. I love the style of cooking, a mix of Italian and Palestinian – it is packed with exotic flavours and made from the freshest, best quality ingredients. I also love the big, beautiful platters of food on display, the concept of sharing tables and the opportunity to eat and share many small dishes.

Thanks Luiz!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Art Spot: Emli Bendixen

This year started off well for Emli Bendixen as she was short-listed for Professional Photographer of the Year Award 2009. With a long list of clients like Wonderland, Vice and Dazed and Confused and a fascinating portfolio of images, this North London-based photographer – who was born in South Korea and grew up in Denmark – has the passion and vision to go far in her career.

For this week’s London Art Spot, she tells us about her approach to photography on a recent trip to India, where we can find a taste of Korean and Danish food in London and about some of the capital’s interesting locations to take a camera.

LLO: How did you end up in London and how long have you lived here?
EB: 
I first moved to London aged 19 after finishing school in Denmark. Being from a small town, I couldn’t wait to move to the city. I later went off to Glasgow and then to Copenhagen for university before returning to London where I have been ever since. I’ve lived in Shepherds Bush, Kennington, Old Street, Dalston, Stoke Newington and now Crouch End.

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
EB:
 First and foremost it gives me access to some really exciting people. I’m curious and inquisitive by nature – and I can think of few places better than London to keep you stimulated and with so much to look at.

LLO: You’re from a Korean/Danish background. Where’s the best place in London to find a taste of Korean or Danish culture?
EB:
To be honest, I haven’t looked into either much. I’m here to check out all the other bits of culture that are different to mine… Although not entirely Danish, I do love the food at Elk in the Woods in Angel; and the Scandinavian bakery in Golden Square. For Korean food there are a couple of excellent places just next to Centre Point – and I really like Dong San in Poland Street.

LLO: Twitter tells me you went to India over Christmas and Flickr shows you brought back some great photos. Tell us a bit about your trip and the photos you took while you were there?
EB:
I went to Kerala in the South. It was an incredible experience. I was very aware of being a tourist, with a Western background, with a camera. I noticed that this role in relation to the people I photographed tinted my photographs with something not quite real – at best something very self-conscious, so I decided to break this process and instead forced myself to focus more on general impressions, the little and the big things… the view from our homestay in Periyar, our taxi driver from Munnar, and the dog that followed us down the beach in Varkala…The result is more personal – I suppose much like a diary – in that I spoke to almost everyone I photographed and walked the same mountains you see in my pictures. The food photography was part of a separate food diary, which my girlfriend was writing.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of and why?
EB:
A portrait called Harmony.

LLO: Favourite place in London to take your camera?
EB:
The city is full of exciting locations – I’ve shot in pubs, clubs, warehouses, studios and council flats; next week I’m shooting in a friend’s house in Finsbury Park that’s in the middle of being renovated. Although I mainly shoot indoors at the moment, I love Hampstead Heath and Abney Park in Stoke Newington. 

LLO: Your largest set on Flickr is called “Faces”. What do you try to capture when you’re shooting a portrait and where do you find your models?
EB:
More often than not, I ask people I know to sit for me. What is most interesting for me in taking a picture is capturing some part of that person which may not usually be on display; so it’s about going beyond what immediately meets the eye. Again, it’s about curiosity… I just want to know a little bit more than I did the moment before that picture was taken.

LLO: What type of camera and lens do you use?
EB:
I normally use a Canon 450D and recently a Canon 1DS Mark III; also a Diana F+, a Holga, and a Minolta XD7.

LLO: Your client list already includes Dazed and Confused, Vice and Professional Photographer Magazine. Who is your dream client and why?
EB:
I would love to work for The Guardian and The Times; Monocle and Intelligent Life are also high on my list. I’m also keen to shoot more music photography – I’ve done press shots for bands such as Robots in Disguise for a couple of years which has been a great challenge and definitely something I want to get more into. I suppose generally I would be happy shooting portraits and lifestyle images that allow for a personal and aesthetic approach.

Thanks Emli!

For more of Emli’s work, check out her website: www.emli.dk/photography.html

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

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