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First a title, then a long period of incubation in my mind ensues.

Without preparatory sketches, I start a painting with marks to experiment and organize my ideas. The painting undergoes many changes. Towards the end, I simplify the painting by obliterating most of the earlier efforts.

With layers upon layers of deliberate and accidental marks, simple and complex compositions, application and scraping off of paint, and embedded traces of failed experiments, my work is so relevant to the way of my being and my life: full of chaos and calm, misjudgments and adjustments, exuberance and restraint.

As an avid traveler, I find the subjects of my paintings have often been the landscapes of distant memories. I have also explored the energy of classical and jazz music.  Most recently, I have been incorporating poems into paintings.  Inspiration comes from the essence of poems, or as Samuel Coleridge once wrote, “the best words in the best order.”  Although my work is seemingly different from one project to another, the way I paint has always been the same. 


My work used to be representational.  But, over time, I felt increasingly constrained and uninspired by realistic subject matter.  Then, in 2000, I happened to travel through Death Valley, California.  I was profoundly moved by its desolate, eerie, and majestic expanse.  At the same time, I wondered how I could express this otherworldly landscape in a realistic way. There, I realized my vision as if by an epiphany. My vision was abstraction.  Instantly I felt freedom and excitement by the prospect of creating something new and embarking on a new adventure.  Becoming an abstract painter, I switched the medium from oil to acrylic, the quick drying better suited to the new, fast painting style.

Born in South Korea, I have been painting since my medical school days in Seoul. I even had a solo show, albeit small, at a coffee shop around the campus at the time. As a self-taught painter, I had an informal art education in Korea with private instructions by a professional artist. Although I went on to become a physician and still continue to work full time as a radiologist in private practice in Maryland, I continued my art education through evening and weekend classes at the Maryland College of Art and at the Art League in Virginia.

I have received many awards at juried shows, including the Purchase Prize Award from The National Drawing Competition, College of Notre Dame, Baltimore, MD, and the Acrylic Society President’s Cash Award, Cornell Museum of Art and History, Delray, FL.

Since 2006, I have held six solo exhibitions.

Hee Hyoun Chung

© Hee Hyoun Chung 2013