A Colorful Journal of Secrets in Abstract Paintings

In mixing cartoon whimsy with abstraction, Seonna Hong's paintings act as a visual diary.

by Esther Cho
20 February 2016, 7:06pm

Wonder Twin

Through strokes of vibrant acrylic, Seonna Hong creates abstract floating dreamscapes dotted with miniature yet purposeful figures. Hong is a storyteller, and her artwork, painted on canvas and sometimes wooden slabs, can be compared to a visual journal of secrets in which symbolic characters, be they human or animal, represent versions of herself or key moments from her past. Over time these characters have shrunk in size compared to the dream-like backgrounds in which they exist, and more focus is placed on flights of color, patterns, and textures. The various techniques Hong uses in each work are heavily inspired by the abstract paintings of Helen Frankenthaller, Sonia Delaunay’s vivid use of colors and patterns, and Jackson Pollack’s drip and expressive techniques.

Forward Momentum 1

For the Los Angeles-based Hong, painting serves as a way to let go, lose control, and trust the outcome of each stroke of paint. This does not come easy for the artist, who admits she is a control freak. “I’ll create some things off of the canvas and then re-apply it to the canvas,” Hong tells The Creators Project.  “For instance I’ll peel off colorful paint chippings from my palette and use these to resemble rocks or take wood-textured sticker cutouts of barren trees to help infuse nature elements into each landscape.”

More Bridges, Less Walls

Hong embeds each character with symbolism. Female figures are youthful self-portraits, and if there are a few in company, they depict the artist and how she’s reflected within an environment. “In a way I don’t want to be found out,” says Hong. “Even though I’m hiding behind symbols and abstract ideas. A lot of the times I’m trying to convey an emotion.” The animal characters represent feelings of fear, hope, or anxiety. She codifies the animals in ways suggestive of “beasts of burden,” sometimes imbuing them with a feeling of impending doom. “I sometimes have a hard time letting go of things— guilt, worries over old conversations or slights, old hurts, old hopes— and am burdened by them,” says Hong.  But they're part of me and the landscape of my experience, informing my choices or just serving as reminders of what I've already learned and to not repeat mistakes if I can help it.” Hong reveals her own vulnerabilities in the characters’ interactions, and the animals coexist to protect the human figures. “I’ve been investigating a lot about myself and this evolved way of thinking and primal behavior of how we are in the world. Somehow the animals represent the id,” she says.


Forward Momentum 2

To learn more about Seonna Hong, click here.


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Helen Frankenthaller
Jackson Pollack
Seonna Hong
Sonia Delaunay