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Interview: Noel Park

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

"빌려온 물로 죽지 않는 꽃을 살렸습니다" ("I Revived A Flower That Was Not Dead With The Water That I Borrowed"), Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.

1) Could you introduce yourself? Where are you from, and when did you first take interest in becoming an artist? When was the breakthrough moment in which you came to first see yourself as an artist?

Hello, although I have shortcomings, I am Noel Park, and I am walking the painter's path. I currently live in Hanam, Gyeong-gi Province, South Korea. I did not attend art school. I was originally trying to become a writer. I always had an interested in the arts from a young age, and I began to make art when I was 25 years old upon hurting my legs. I think perhaps that the reason why I became absorbed in making art is due to the expansion of my understanding that is based in reality but is not realistic.

"무거워진 배게를 접고 나를 개었습니다" ("I Folded The Pillow That Became Heavy and Folded Myself"). Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.

2) As you said in your artist statement, you intend to preserve the beauty that you perceive for posterity. How do you define beauty, and why is it important to you? Where or on what things and/or phenomena do you perceive beauty? Why do you want to make a permanent record of the beauty that you perceive?

This could be a dangerous question. I do not want to make a definition about beauty. The reason is that such a definition would create a limit of thought. However, I discover pieces of thought harboring the possibility of stories that are different from the every day. These include the shadows in the streets, flower leaf that is leaning sideways, or a person's face without any expression. I believe that, if people can have conversations with my creations that come from these things, they can discover fun within the mundane everyday life. Also there is the quality of permanence among the different traits of an artwork. I am an existence that will eventually disappear. However, an artwork could last for a long time like a fossil. Then the delightfulness that I felt would remain in the people's minds for a long time.

"우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 (1)" {"There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (1)"}. Acrylic painting on canvas, 100 cm x 210cm.

3) Beauty can be many things to a painter, such as the smile of a person or the colors of a sunset. Beauty also involves many aspects to a painter, resulting from the interaction of color, form, texture, proportion, and composition. How do your acrylic paintings, which depict flowers and their vases in color and often with impasto, relate to the beauty that you perceive in terms of the subject matter and the various visual elements (of painting)?

I am careful as an artist because a too detailed explanation can inhibit the contemplation of an artwork. However, like many pictures, my paintings should involve all the possibilities of representation and all the possibilities of abstraction. To one person, the background of a flower can be a color of a wall, but it can also be seen as a color field abstraction. I think that perhaps the beauty that is discovered from there is a flower that blossoms in the audience's mind.

"우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 (6)" {"There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (6)"}. Acrylic painting on canvas, 100 cm x 70 cm.

4) Can beauty that manifests as color and form or the subject matter have a specific meaning or an interpretation? What kind of meaning or interpretation would be possible within your painting as relating to the beauty that you captured and conveyed through the act of painting?

I don't want to give a specific explanation. I don't want to take away from the audience the enjoyment of finding out about the artwork, as an artist. However, at a recent exhibition, a child looking at the artwork titled, "There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (1)," shouted "It's an apartment!" and ran away. At that moment, I realized that the painting that I made was not my own painting anymore. The child had freely made an interpretation. It was moving for my work to gain life in such a way.

"우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 (8)" {"There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (8)"}. Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.

5) Color is important to you. Do you rely on any theories about color, for your paintings, or is your color perception and application mostly instinctual?

Although color exists as a theory, I believe that color is a choice of my self and my instinct, like most other artists. There can be many aspects to a color, and I believe that there is a color that is appropriate to a specific situation, a specific point in time, a particular landscape, and a particular painting.

6) Do you consider yourself a Modernist painter, or are you heavily influenced by Modernism? Which artists have most heavily influenced you and your style?

It's difficult for me to define myself because I don't know what are the defining boundaries of Modernism. However, it's true that I am highly influenced by the Modernist painters' works. The artist from whom I received significant influence recently is Park, Su-geun. I am affected with enthusiasm, by the peacefulness and the roughness that can be felt from rocks. One of nicknames for Park, Su-geun is "People's Painter." I also want to be like the artist to be able to approach and affect the average person.

(Image below: 우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 [9]" ["There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (9)"]. Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.)

7) Is your painting flowers and flower vases partly due to your philosophy that art should be accessible to all? Or does the flower vase carry a separate and specific metaphorical meaning or significance?

I think that the fact that flowers enter the minds of people is a big factor. I think it's still a mystery how flowers can easily approach people's minds, among the numerous objects and things found in nature. So I painted flowers as my main subject matter. Also, although thought is imbued in the flower vase and the colors, to explain everything is to eat a salmon salad by separating it.

8) Is it fair to say that you paint flowers through your own stylized or abstracted interpretation of a physical reality based on a photographic vision? Do you see painting as an opportunity for creative exploration for artists, just as scientists conduct experiments? Or do you actually see these fragmented colors, textures, and abstracted forms in reality?

As I explained previously, it may involve both. Anything can be both a reality and a fantasy. Both representation and abstraction can be expressed in the same place too. It would be great for many different approaches to allow people to enjoy the work.

9) Why are shadows usually absent from your paintings? Are the flowers illuminating with lights from within? What would the lack of shadows and the internal illumination mean on a spiritual or philosophical level?

Although there are abstract and representational aspects to a painting, I think perhaps I have a fear that shadows will contribute too much emphasis to the representational quality. Also, although I am a religious person, I stray away from using art as a tool for spiritual expression. However, as a son of a pastor, there can be an underlying spiritual influence.

(Image to the right: "우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 [2]" ["There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (2)"]. Acrylic painting on canvas, 100 cm x 70 cm.)

10) Which work are you most proud of? If life on Earth was coming to an end, and you could take any one painting that you completed with you on a rocket to another planet, which would you choose? Could you explain the painting of your choice further, in terms of meaning? Or is meaning not all that important in your work, if you are primarily a formalist painter concerned purely with color and form?

Although I like all of my works, I think about the piece titled, "There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (2)." It may be because I spent a lot of effort to build up layers in the early stage of using impasto. It may be more interesting to look at the work through the filter of color relationships. However, the scary thing about an artist's words is that if the artist argues that "this is this!" then there is the danger that all the other possibilities are removed, even if the intention while making the work is not there. If making an artwork deep into the night is for having a good time with other people, then speaking minimally gives the best chance for unlimited interpretations and delightful feelings of other people to manifest. Other people's feelings and various thoughts are more important and interesting than my own thoughts.

"우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 (12)" {"There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (12)"}. Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.

11) What are your dreams and goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I want to become an artist who is able to give a lot. For that to happen I must prepare many tools. In 5 years, I hope to become a painter who can show more interesting works and make people delightful and peaceful.

"우리의 꿈속에는 꽃이 있습니다 (13)" {"There Is a Flower in Our Dreams (13)"}. Acrylic painting on canvas, 60 cm x 40 cm.

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