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Yeesookyung. Photograph by Kim Wooil.

Yeesookyung, an artist who lives and works in Seoul, Korea, constantly reinvents her practice through various media such as painting, sculpture, performance, and video. She received her formal education as a painter at Seoul National University and graduated into a Korean art world that was rigidly polarized between two ideological extremes. Some preferred an international style that favored abstract art, while others practiced a populist style called Minjung art. Yeesookyung, in contrast, worked to define her own individual path while reflecting on political and cultural realities of Korea, both past and present.

In her Translated Vase series, one of which is in the Art Institute’s collection, Yeesookyung transformed abandoned fragments of ceramics into unique shapes that transcend any conventional notion of beauty or function. Her intention is not to restore or heal the original form, but to celebrate vulnerability and imperfection by reconstituting the broken pieces into distinctive works with their own meaning and beauty.

Yeesookyung spent her critical years as a student in the 1970s–80s, a time when Korea struggled to regain its national identity after the Japanese colonial period (1910–45) and the Korean War (1950–53). This period was further complicated by severe cultural censorship under a military regime. Owing to this experience, she seeks to embrace fragmented identities and looks for missing cultural links to connect the disjointed or imbue new narratives through art. She has emerged as one of the leading female artists in Korea today.

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