Regulating versatility by juggling various hats, Choi Jeong-hwa, a Seoul-based artist, uses the medium of visual art and architectural design to satiate his inspiration from popular culture into kitschy large-scale installation art.

Jeong Hwa deplores the idea of mass production and despises the overconsumption of plastic materials, exhibiting a longstanding commitment to fulfilling his vision of sustainability. He denotes staggering support for fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Responsible Consumption and Production. To give light to his tunnel vision, Jeong-hwa dissects materials such as consumer goods, balloons, wires, and recycled items and fuses them together into large-scale outdoor sculptures and installations.

Come Together (2011). Image courtesy of Qatar Tribune.

Relishing in the chaos and beauty of the city, Jeong-hwa dismisses the idea of art galleries and museums and takes comfort in the possibility that the outdoor sphere has to offer his art and creation. Following an interesting metaphor, Jeong-hwa harbours an inclination for unique local elements and a repudiation of global consumer culture. Despite the recognition in the realm since the 1990s, he never aspired to be an artist of sorts.

“I never wanted to be an artist. I used to say my job was ‘Choi Jeong-hwa’ or an ‘intervenor’. Moving across graphic design, stage design, architecture, installation, sculpture, etc., I am doing one coherent work, which might be seen as different works depending on the observer. I’d say I do only one thing—that is, find the balance of the world,” said Jeong-hwa in an interview with Artling.

Flower Tree, Choi Jeong-hwa, 2004, exhibited in Singapore. Image Courtesy: My Modern Met

Memorializing the ubiquity of plastic and sheer materialism, Choi creates an immersive medium to showcase his beliefs. In 2022, Choi built Come Together, a 12-meter-high stainless steel and plastic installation of 100 neon orbs and branches. The dandelion-resembling structure, including spheres, footballs, Qatari kitchenware, and industrial safety helmets, is commissioned by the state-run Qatar Foundation.

Utilizing the vibrancy and symbolism of flowers and the durability of artificial materials, Choi presents a contrasting innovation of his own by starkly segregating the natural and the manmade.

1,000 Doors, Choi Jeong-hwa. Image courtesy of Choi Jeong-hwa.

1,000 Doors, is a 10-story public installation built with recycled doors and plastic buckets to garner the effect of a "great wall." The doors represent the city of Seoul with its urban galore and the stories of thousands of people inhabiting the apartment. The idea behind the installation was that by using discarded doors, he could retain the memories of everyday life that the doors were once subject to. It is also a medium of engaging the population of the city into considering normal things to look extraordinary.

Breathing Flower, 2012, Choi Jeong-hwa. Breathing Flower, a 24- foot diameter structure, made of motorized fabric symbolizes the Buddhist artistic expression of Asian culture which is purity and spiritual awakening. Image courtesy of Nikita Kashner.

Jeong-hwa, with a hint of humour, directly leads us to overview the processes of distribution and consumption of goods and focuses on issues of accessibility in contemporary art and culture. He subtly comments on the privileged art society and status in a consumer-centric world.

Taking the title of a “mediator,” and the leader of Korean pop art scene, Choi Jeong-hwahumbly showcases his craft and condemnation of consumer goods and materialism while contributing his artistic appeal to graphic design, stage art, photography, and architecture. 

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