In the Studio with Jiy Kang

In the studio with Jiy Kang, a visual artist whose practice explores dreamscapes as a bridge between our domestic spaces and the natural world. We met with Jiy to tell us more about her greatest influences, what inspired Jiy to first pursue her artistic journey, and ideal conditions for creating works.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

As far as I remember, I’ve been painting since I was three-four years old. I can’t explain but it was so natural. Anywhere I bring a pencil, colored pen, and a blank space.

It was also when I studied fashion illustration and communication design in London. After I graduated University, I was obsessed with the desire to paint on canvas. 

As a writer writes story not for a specific audience, I just began to draw for me now. I wanted to express what I am and how I feel. The biggest tool I have is myself.

What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

Sometimes it is painting that comforts me and solves my weary. Paintings are my everything, and they are the most honest record and expression of my conscious and unconscious mind. I enjoy drawing so much.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

The message of my works often explores dreamscapes as a bridge between our domestic spaces and the natural world. The sleeping figure which is recurrent in this body of works is a relatively new feature i’ve explored – sprawled out across both my bedroom and reality. 

My paintings explore dreaming and what is let go in the subconscious. What is powerful in dream images where desire and absurdity are the overriding generic structures. There is a quality of softness to my fantasies, desired that are delicately wrapped in my imagination.

My painting also often has abstract shapes about my mind, and specific figures which serve as metaphors of the transportive power of desire. The immense generosity of  my detailed paintings brings a meditative quality  on femininity and its capacity for tenderness. I try to get images out of my unconscious fear by observing my own mind. 


Who & what are your greatest influences?  

First of all, I believe my greatest influence is  myself because I am a dreamer and sleeper. I find my unconscious through dream interpretation.

I keep changing and developing ideas so I record these moments every day. I’m the all different colours and the pencil; I’m the tool for the painting. The inspiration for me goes through me. I’m the one who makes the work. I have to take care of all my moments.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

My relationship with my loved ones; by sharing and interacting with others, I broaden my thinking.

Or it can also be  through something unexpected that has happened – a negative emotion about being frustrated or confused. 

I often perceive them first and try to interpret and gain insight into my emotions. These processes help me develop and extend my depth of works.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

I want people to take the female figurative form with an autobiographical pursuit, containing my secret and private contents of my mind. However, I hope that the viewer will never be offended or just accept the meaning of my story as it is only mine and everyone has different stories. (I never lock or force the viewer into the frame of my works meaning.)

I want them to take my works as examples of beauty without any meaning or task. 

It is important to have things in our days just to simply enjoy. I also don’t ask for meanings too much in a painting. I enjoy being able to provide a little bit of imagination through my works, with hopes the audience looks into their true heart.

 I would want people to feel curious looking at my works, to feel an intriguing element or something important that has happened. There’s a secret – something you have to discover in the narrative. They’re not just sitting there to be looked at, there’s an actual story. At the same time, I want people to feel serene and relaxed, deriving a kind of pleasure by seeing a story unfold.

It is the pleasure of my work to provide a little bit of imaginative time to accommodate various viewpoints and present various opinions.

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

 I always feel appreciation for the small things and always try to look at my inner unconscious mind. I always bring a little sketchbook, pen and pencil wherever I go and draw my abstract feelings and thoughts.

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?

Watching Jujube and Me is about two people who look like twins. 

One of person is a past representation of me (sitting) and the other is of me now (standing.

The fish’s shape penetrated the jujube. It represents a lot of past events that have happened to me. The person standing didn’t stare at the fishbowl. I have my hand in the fishbowl. But I don’t try to catch fish. The fish signifies the future – what I do, who I meet, and what I realize. Although we can’t predict the future, it is important to concentrate on the present. 

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I feel nowadays,  many people’s main fear is the confusion in one’s own mind. 

I think it is because people don’t want to spend time finding themselves and perhaps ignore things. For example, someone finding a solution from other people. Each person has a different unconscious fear and values.  So my painting could be a kind of signpost of a quest, hoping to give stability in this situation possibly leading you in the direction. That is something I hope to explore in the future for myself.