The Pippurio, the studio of three talented artists Ppuri, Hyunwoo Lee, and Jio Yoo, who are working on various media, is located in a narrow alley behind the post office in Mullae. I visited the space of the three artists, where each of their own personalities and characteristics combined and listened to the honest stories about the Mullae area and their works.
Studio Pippurio (Mullae-dong 2-ga 14-74)
Q. Please introduce yourselves. What kind of things have you been working on?
Hello, I’m Taewon Ahn, also known as Ppuri. I’m currently working on two-dimensional works using an airbrush. The anxiety that I feel instinctively outside the space of familiarity is the driving force of my paintings. I usually get inspirations from unclear images of anime or social media. It is hard to guess the answer to questions such as ‘Where? Who? Why?’ when it comes to an image with the unclear causal relationship of situation. It is beyond my common sense. I think common sense is a frame of thought hardened by a single sheet of paper. Isn’t that why you feel a sense of incompatibility or uncanny when you see these kinds of images? Those images are what I’m interested in.
My paintings can be seen as an epic or a fairy tale, but ironically, I’m working with anti-fairy and anti-narrative images. I try to focus on the coincidence between images rather than on the narrative structure. Rather than excluding intentions at all, I can say that I have a small connection in mind. And most of the time I focus on two-dimensional works, but if there’s anything that I want to make, I don’t care about the media. Recently, I also collaborated with new brands on animation music videos and three-dimensional works. I’m trying to enjoy my life. Yet I think it’s already wrong that I’m trying. I think people who really enjoy are born with it. But I’m still trying.
Ppuri, Can You See Me, 45x45cm, Acrylics on Canvas, 2020
Ppuri, The Great Master of the World, 213.5x100cm, Acrylics on Canvas, 2021
Hello, I’m Hyunwoo Lee. I’m currently working on removing the functions, meanings, and standards defined and named in things in the form of sculptures. As a result of the process, I create an image that reveals materiality. This type of work is deeply related to my attitude toward an object. I often think that it is absurd and vague when faced with certain criteria for defining and judging something. For example, a standard for dividing good and evil, or a specified use of chairs or toilets. I often imagine, “Will aliens figure out the purpose of things at once if they come to Earth?” I’m not an alien, but I want to see things as they are. It’s like a defence mechanism that comes from not wanting to be consumed by a situation or an object. Looking at things in this manner, I noticed materiality. I thought so I prepared a personal definition. To me, the sculpture is “Imagification of a substance that is not regulated and named”.
Hyunwoo Lee, Untitled, 150x150x180cm, Red Cedar, Goose Feather and Aluminum, 2020
Hyunwoo Lee, Untitled, 40x40x90cm, Aluminum, Stalactite, Crystal Ball, Stainless Bolts and Stainless Nuts, 2021
Hello, I’m Jio Yoo. It hasn’t been long since I started working again after graduating from college. I had a long break, but I was under pressure to work during that time. I found it hard to figure out what to do since moving on to the three-dimensional work. So far, I’ve been working on using power to create a circular shape. I’m attracted to the energy that moving things produce and the process of them colliding with each other and getting back into place. Recently, I am trying to recombine the fragments of the image derived from the movement and recreate them into one image. And I want to add a more sculptural element to work.
Jio Yoo, (↔), Variable Size, Pipes, Ropes, Motor and Aluminum chain, 2018
Jio Yoo, ↕, Variable Size, Acrylics, Iron, Chain, Hosepipe, Hose band and Submersible Motor, 2021
Q. When and how was the studio of the three artists formed? Is there something particularly common or different between the three of you?
Lee) I asked Ppuri to join in the process of urgently looking for a studio last autumn. I used to like the works of Ppuri, and I especially liked his attitude. We had different techniques from each other, so I thought it would be more than double if we were united. Later, Jio Yoo, a former member of my studio, joined us. The most obvious thing in common between the three of us is the university. Personally, I think the work of artists from our university is a little technical, and it applies to the three of us as well. The difference would be the media we use, as each of us deals with sculpture, installation, and painting. It seems that different approaches towards the work are being pursued in different ways.
Ppuri) The three of us share a similar point in that we approach things intuitively rather than building a discourse, although the directions and media we use are all different.
Q. Is there any synergy between the three same, but different artists working in one space?
Ppuri) I usually do two-dimensional works, so I’ve always painted on a square canvas. By sharing the studio with two other artists, I was able to use the tools needed to produce three-dimensional and various types of sculptures. Naturally, I was able to make a different shape of the canvas and give specific estimates of things that used to stay in vague imagination. This is a big advantage.
Yoo) I was able to make a much more efficient routine by working with others.
Lee) I was able to do much more delicate work since we became to exchange help during the work process. I think it’s also a good thing to get various feedback by meeting each other’s acquaintances who often visit this place. And the three of us have different working patterns. While Ppuri is a prolific type without a break, I tend to map out the ideas and images in detail for a long time and then execute the work at once. Looking at the process of others which is different from mine, I get motivated and get to move more diligently.
Ppuri) I can relate to Lee on this part. I’ve been obsessed with producing something continuously, but by watching the two artist’s working process, I felt the need for time to think and plan. Rather than thinking the original way was wrong, I was able to reflect on the advantages of other ways. I used to be nervous if I didn’t come out to the studio for a day and draw something, but now I became able to take time for myself to think.
Q. There are several areas where artists gather to set up studios, such as Itaewon, Mangwon, and Euljiro. Mullae is also one of them. Is there a reason why you set up a studio here? Tell us about the pros and cons of working in the Mullae area.
Lee) In Mullae, there are various factories for ironworks, castings, and shelf-processing located here and there. The reason for setting up a studio in Mullae was because of these factories, where you can get all the materials such as wood and steel that are used a lot in sculptures, and you can get advice on the production of work. Since there are many factories for CNC cuts and laser cuts, all the processes are carried out in Mullae. I can easily get ingredients nearby at Guro Tool Shopping Center. I think Mullae is the best area for my work. The disadvantage would be aged buildings and toilets.
Yoo) It is similar for me. In Mullae, I can solve technical problems that are needed for work right away. I am learning some techniques to simplify the work process from nearby technicians. I think it has many advantages.
Ppuri) For me, the biggest problem in the work process was the dust from using airbrushes. Since there are many factories in Mullae, most of the spaces are well equipped with ventilation facilities, so is our studio. It’s a really good environment for me. It seems to be the influence of these surrounding environment that I became to use different shapes of canvas and to consider three-dimensional display methods.
Q. Mullae has a unique atmosphere coming from a combination of various occupational groups. There are some hidden gems in every narrow alley, so is there any place you want to introduce?
Lee) There are some good places I would like to introduce. Located on Mullaedong 2-ga, “Golmokjip” does duck potato stew and it has a unique taste. It has been introduced to the media a few times. And the “Jamsukyo-jip!’ Frozen pork belly and generous side dishes are the best. I also recommend refreshing arrowroot juice from “Moa Café”.
Ppuri) I want to introduce “Wang Daebak Restaurant”. It’s a restaurant on Mullaedong 2-ga, and it’s really good. It comes out with a lot of side dishes and the service is good. Many restaurants in Mullae are good for people who run and work at factories, to eat quick and easy. I think it is one of the great things about Mullae.
Q. It’s already been about a year since the Pandemic was declared. Many parts of our daily life have changed, including wearing masks, switching most of the activities to non-face-to-face, and identifying ourselves whenever we enter and exit the places. We often are surprised at how we got used to all these things. There were big and small changes and restrictions in visual arts activities based mainly on physical media, including exhibitions. Have you ever felt the impact of COVID in continuing your work? What is the most difficult thing after the pandemic?
Lee) I don’t think I’ve been restricted from working or exhibiting due to the pandemic yet. As everyone may be, I feel psychologically sensitive and frustrated due to the situation of wearing masks all the time and limited activities. But other than that, there is nothing much difficult.
Ppuri) Recently, I was asked a lot about what I wanted to do the most after COVID ended. But, I also spend a lot of time in the studio, so I didn’t feel much impact other than everyday things.
Yoo) Since it became hard for me to go out, I could concentrate more on my work. However, there is a concern related to COVID, which is the rapid consumption of online images in the process of adapting to the pandemic situation. Especially through the ‘Story’ function on Instagram, images are appeared and disappeared repeatedly in 24 hours and it made me think about many things. COVID has made this situation develop more quickly and intensively. Due to social media and online-based visual arts activities, the image of the exhibition or artwork might become lighter and cause side effects that end up as a one-off event, and it seems very worrying to me.
Q. Besides what Jio said, alternative online activities are taking place after COVID. What do you think about this aspect?
Lee) I saw the online storage exhibition that was implemented in 3D last year, and I felt that there was still a technical limit on creating an effect that is as real as reality. I felt like I was looking at a piece that doesn’t really exist. So these activities seem to me as another form of exhibition rather than a perfect alternative to replace the existing exhibitions in the physical space.
Yoo) Although it is a form of exhibition that must be accepted if activities in the actual physical space become difficult, it still feels like a special event. I think it is a matter of continuing to think about what alternative ways art can come up with.
Q. Tell us about your plans or goals for this year.
Lee) In April, there is a group exhibition planned with Ppuri and Jio. Each of us is doing our best. And my first solo exhibition is scheduled for June. This year’s goal is personal development to achieve better works than now.
Yoo) The immediate schedule is a group exhibition with the studio members, and all three of us are on fire because the exhibition is just around the corner. I think I’m still in the process of learning, so I’d like to show you that I’m gradually developing through steady work.
Ppuri) Recently, I’ve been trying to get out of the square canvas. As I said before, I cut down the woods with CNC and customize the canvas. In the future, I would like to slowly explore the ways to join two-dimensional and three-dimensional and put them into practice. Besides personal work, I am planning to continue some commercial collaboration. I think it is a way to show different aspects of myself through those works. Lastly, the small goal is to finish the exhibition of the three of us, which will start on April 2nd.
Interview/ Text: Sohee Kim
Photo: Chaewon Kim
Check out the link below for the information on the exhibition “Stuck”, which will begin in L.A.D on April 2.