Jeehye Baek (born in 1975) has mastered a high form of Korean silk painting techniques, replicating nineteenth century figure paintings. She applies these skills to a contemporary subject matter to depict the most intimate and precious moments of her life.
A silk painting is one of the highest and most complicated forms of paintings in the Korean painting tradition. Silk is delicate and expensive to work with; the painting procedure also requires long preparation, accuracy and concentration. This is why today a handful of artists practice this tradition in Korea. Jeehye persists in the old method to achieve the highest quality of work: She stitches the fabric onto a wooden frame, which usually takes her weeks to finish. She uses only organic pigments, which she mixes every time she paints. One careless stroke would cause a bleed, so great concentration is needed constantly. The paint is applied more than six times onto the front and back of the fabric, until it reaches the right color. When the work is finished, the piece is taken out of the frame and sent to a specialist who permanently mounts it onto a panel.
On the other hand, her subject matter is surprisingly humble: Jeehye depicts mundane scenes of everyday life, such as kids playing in the alley, girls chatting with each other, a brick wall shining with sunlight, a shadow of a tree dancing on the street, and flower petals fallen onto the sidewalk. In her paintings, however, these insignificant details transform jewel like moments. Jeehye says, “The most precious memories of my life have not been historic moments or significant events, but rather small details of the ordinary. To me, it’s like a treasure hunt, finding small happiness in the very moment that we live.”