EK Interview: Minjae Lee

Empty Kingdom has featured South Korean artist Minjae Lee‘s mind-blowing work earlier last year. This time we have an exclusive interview with him sharing in-depth background based around his work. Previously featured by Millions.

Please give a short introduction of yourself.
My name is Minjae Lee, a.k.a Greno. I was born on January 11th 1989 in South Korea.

How long have you been a professional artist? Have you had a chance to travel? Where have you been outside of South Korea?
January, 2010. I might travel to Europe next year, we will see what the future holds.

You’ve stated that some of your teachers did not approve of your art. What were some of their criticisms and how did that affect you?
They said It’s too complicated, too messy, And There’s too many colors. I thought their opinion was not important because I made my work only for myself ( I think that’s still how I draw to this day).

Recently I thought of creating more balance in my work, but still have to show my personality and that’s what I’m working on now.

Do you use models for your art, or are the women purely from your imagination?
Some of them are real and some of them is not. 🙂

Most of the women in your portraits are Caucasian. Is there a reason you focus on white subjects, rather than Asians?
It’s nothing like that, I like Caucasian and Asian faces. I’m just very strict at Asian faces cause I’m Asian. I keep looking for Asian faces that what I want to draw but I’m a perfectionist and I’m more critical as I’m also Asian. Somethings not work as usual, and can’t satisfied with the result. So I’m always looking for new models and inspiration.

Theres lots of Caucasian models. There’s so many photos and models everywhere you look. So I can find what i want easily. That’s why I draw Caucasian mostly.

There is a lot of dramatic tension in your women’s expressions. What are some of the emotions that you are trying to express?
I want the crowd to feel the same thing through my work, as I do inside myself as there are some things you can never express with word. How can you describe love, passion, anticipation. We have so many words to describe other words, but in the end, we all feel the same and we all feel different. Through my work, I want people to feel what I feel.

Sometimes I draw another person’s issue. If that important to me.

You have a deep appreciation for color. Is there anywhere in the world that you find colorful enough for your tastes or would you like to take paint over everything?
Actually I don’t like colorful things, it’s about balance. I think Natural things (animals, birds) is beautiful.

You use a lot of markers. Do you have a favorite brand?
‘Copic’. Only the best one is copic I think. Can’t compare with others. There’s wide nip exist only in copic. but I also use other brands when I need another effect. like ‘Pentone’/’Neopiker’/’Sinhan’

Who are some of your favorite artists?
I liked ‘Wassily Kandinsky’/’Jean Michel Basquiat’/’Piet Mondrian’/’Zak smith’/’Jenny saville’ when I was high school. I also tried to buying a work from Gabriel Moreno, but It was sold out and now I don’t have any.

If you had to pick only two colors to represent your soul, which two would they be?
Hmm,,, It’s too tough to choose. I think Black and Purple. Black is most useful color and Purple is most difficult color to use for me. I have both position in my self.

Any upcoming shows or events that you want to promote?
There’s nothing official yet, but I may be exhibiting in a few countries outside of Korea and I have been invited to an event in Israel in 2012 . But When I finished what I working on now, I want to prepare an exhibition or an art book of my work.



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