In the Studio with Frank Jimin Hopp

German-Korean artist Frank Jimin Hopp draws his inspiration from literature, mythology and the history art - themes he often places in dialogue with current political events or everyday observations. We met with Frank to tell us more about growing up in Berlin and his greatest influences.​

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 
When I was a child I painted and drew almost in every spare minute, but being an artist was nothing important for me back then. Because I am not coming from a typical artistic background, it was quite a process for me to find access to the often very elitist art world. But when I was accepted at the university of arts in Berlin 2013 I got the confidence to see myself as an artist.
Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?
I was born 1994 in Berlin. Me and my brother were raised by our parents in a 3 room flat in the district Neukölln. I have a South Korean mum and a German dad. Although they were both no artists themselves, they influenced me and my work as an artist in their own unique way. When my interest in art raised my father took me to see a lot of museums, where I got in first touch with art history. My mum influenced me with her colorful food and her amazing cooking skills. She is a real artist for me.
Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first purées, and then continue to practice artistic work?
Painting has always given me a lot. When I was a child it was great fun for me to invent heroes and stories while drawing and to work on them for hours. Or, for
example, when I wanted something very badly, but my parents could not buy it for me, then I simply drew this toy in many different versions down to the smallest detail and I was happy with it in a way. As I got older, I got the feeling that in painting I could express things that I could not put in words. From then on, at the latest, it was clear to me that I wanted to become an artist.
Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten
Was there a pivotal moment when you felt you were on the right track?
2016 I lived a few months in Madrid, where I had the great chance to use a studio space at the C.S.A. La Tabacalera. After this time, my practice changed a lot, I took way more risk in my paintings, they became bolder and braver. Another pivotal moment for my artistic work was to discover ceramics as a second medium for myself.
What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose?

When I was younger, I always had to transport a certain message in every work. To get to a point to overcome this utilitarianism and limitation was an important step for me. Now I feel a lot of freedom in my paintings, drawings and sculptures and the narration and the themes appear almost by itself. Themes like Redemption and Salvation often take an important place in many of my works. Also, the question of human condition and nature of man. I am interested in the moment when something seemingly profane encounters something profound, so that an unexpected depth emerges.

Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I would describe my aesthetic as bright, loud and colourful, often messy, sometimes surprisingly calm.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

My greatest influences are comics/manga, video games, movies, 90’s tv, Hip Hop and pop culture. I also have a big interest in mythology and religious beliefs – often in
combination with everyday consumption products.

Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten

An unexpected source of inspiration?

Shopping Malls, Super Bowl and documentaries about the universe.

Are you works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? 

My works are mostly planned. In forms of sketches, thoughts, research, and preparation. But coincidence and spontaneity have an important role in my practice as well. I need this If those two parts come together in the right way, something beautiful but also mysterious can happen.

Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practice/aesthetic?

A recent example of how my work is influenced by events were the impressions and experiences especially in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in the winter of 2020. It seemed as if in panic hoarding purchases (as well as in racist attacks and insults) abysses of a seemingly open and enlightened society were revealed. These experiences and observations were reflected both directly and indirectly in my work, like you can see in the paintings “Survival Of the Sickest (I-II)”. Another example are the crayon drawings, such as “Sitting (II & III)”. When the colleges and studios were
closed because of the pandemic, I had no space to work on big canvas, like I was used to. So I started to work much smaller and on paper and with different materials. During this time, I rediscovered crayon as well as watercolours and ink for myself. Since then they became important components of my work.

What are your ideal conditions or catalysts for creating a “good” piece of work?

Enough Space and Time, good music, neither pressure to succeed nor fear to fail and the perfect balance between coincidence and vision.

Credit to Luis Bortt @Kunzten


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