Nanan creates flower arrangements that last a lifetime

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Artist Nanan Kang at her ″ Long Long Time Flower 2021 ″ solo exhibition at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center in South Seoul. [SAIIDA]

Nanan Kang, often referred to simply as Nanan, is an artist who cannot be easily categorized. His “Long Long Time Flower” series, which are cutouts of flower paintings that can be placed in a vase or arranged in a bouquet like real flowers, as well as his designs on windows, have earned him fame in the clothing industry. design and fashion. insiders and hipsters on social media, but she’s less well known in the so-called “fine art world”.

Today, Nanan is expanding its territory by organizing its solo exhibition “Long Long Time Flower 2021″ until Sunday at the Gangnam Center of the main art auction house Seoul Auction, in the south of Seoul, a land of game for collectors of “fine art”.

In this exhibition, Nanan mainly displays the cutouts of original paintings of flowers and other objects inspired by the patterns of ancient folk paintings and Korean crafts. Many cutouts, arranged in bouquets and framed, hang on the walls, while others are placed in moon pots, or round white porcelain pots, on antique wooden furniture. According to Seoul Auction, all of his works on display were sold during the first week of the exhibition.

Nanan's flower painting cutouts from the ″ Long Long Time Flower ″ series, now on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center in south Seoul. [SAIIDA]

Nanan’s flower painting cutouts from the ″ Long Long Time Flower ″ series, now on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center in south Seoul. [SAIIDA]

Nanan's pine painting cutouts from the ″ Long Long Time Flower ″ series, now on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center. [SAIIDA]

Nanan’s pine painting cutouts from the ″ Long Long Time Flower ″ series, now on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center. [SAIIDA]

Painting cut by Nanan of norigae, or traditional Korean accessory, on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center in south Seoul. [SAIIDA]

Painting cut by Nanan of norigae, or traditional Korean accessory, on display at the Seoul Auction Gangnam Center in south Seoul. [SAIIDA]

In one corner of the showroom is the Long Long Time Flower Shop, where people can choose and purchase printed cutouts, each depicting a flower or leaf, for 5,000 won ($ 4.40) per piece. . Visitors can create their own bouquets, which could be seen as new works of art made in collaboration with Nanan.

Last December, when the Yeongdeungpo branch of Lotte department store in west Seoul opened a similar pop-up store to celebrate the installation of Nanan’s giant bouquet sculpture inside the renovated retailer, there was a long queue of people to buy the flower print cutouts. “The sales results even surprised the executives” of the retailer, according to Jung Go-eun, curator of the Lotte Gallery.

“I don’t know exactly why people love my ‘Long Long Time Flower’ pieces so much. […] Maybe it’s because people can redeem them as gifts, which is also an act of art in my opinion, ”Nanan told Korea JoongAng Daily at Seoul Auction Gangnam Center last month.

“In particular, when I saw someone bring long-lasting flowers as a gift to a bedridden patient, I felt really grateful,” the artist continued. “I even saw a person cry in front of one of my works in this exhibition. My works seem to have therapeutic qualities.

The creation of the “Long Long Time Flower” series also came from a gift for a friend in 2013, Nanan said. “I love flowers, so I would give my friends the bouquets that I made from real flowers for their birthdays. Then I got the idea that as a painter I had better give them my drawings of flowers. However, I didn’t want to give them painted flowers in rectangular frames.

“Finally, I created cutouts of flower designs, after a friend of mine asked me to make a wedding bouquet for her,” the artist continued. “When I gave the bouquet of the cutouts to my friend, she said, ‘This bouquet of flowers will not fade for a very, very long time.’ Then I decided to call the pieces “Long Long Time Flower”.

To find out more about his works, the Korea JoongAng Daily caught up with Nanan. Here are excerpts from the interview.

You started out as a magazine editor and illustrator around 2000 and are known for your elaborate line designs on store windows with the white paint you developed in the mid-2000s. [Nanan is often dubbed the first professional window painter in Korea.] But this solo show is only your second after the 2019 exhibition at Lotte Avenuel in Jamsil, east Seoul. Why?
Before, I hardly felt the need to do an exhibition, because my window paintings are displayed to the public on the street or in other public spaces. Additionally, I have actively communicated with the public on social media ranging from Cyworld [a Korean social network service] in the 2000s to Instagram today. However, I do know the joy of seeing works of art in person, which I myself have experienced as the first viewer of my finished works. And there were young illustrators and designers curious about my work process. This is how I held my first solo exhibition in 2019 and revealed my work process. The enthusiastic response even exceeded my expectations.

Nanan's window painting exhibited in the Lower East Side, New York in 2007.

Nanan’s window painting exhibited in the Lower East Side, New York in 2007.

The great popularity of “Long Long Time Flower” could lead to plagiarism. Are you concerned about this?
I’ve seen imitators before! My Instagram followers keep me posted on such cases. As I have learned from the painful experience with my window paints before, I have already obtained a patent for my “Long Flower”, including its concept and title. I politely warned the imitators, and then they removed their works.
After my window paintings gained popularity, some people started drawing on windows in a very similar style and with similar material to mine around 2010. One of them even started a drawing class in. windows in my style! I was helpless at the time. Finally, I was like, “Okay, so I’m going to let everyone draw on windows in my style, the right way. So I developed a “Window Tree” kit for the Christmas season, which includes things like a white marker that I developed, a tree design, and a manual for people to create their own. own Christmas tree on their home windows without cutting down real trees or buying plastic ones.

Some of your “Long Long Time Flower” pieces in this exhibit appear to have been inspired by flowers, animals and objects depicted in traditional Korean folk paintings and patterns of old Korean porcelain.
A Yes, I have thought about how I can express my identity in my bouquets [of cut-outs] and studied how our ancestors represented flowers and nature in folk paintings and in decorative designs for daily necessities. Not only their shapes but their meanings fascinated me. When our ancestors brought natural elements to art in everyday life, they gave each element symbolic meaning. Now I am recreating such a tradition in my works.

Nanan's collaboration with Korean high-end porcelain maker KwangJuYo. [NANAN KANG]

Nanan’s collaboration with Korean high-end porcelain maker KwangJuYo. [NANAN KANG]

Nanan's stage decoration in singer Lee Seung-hwan's ″ Only Ballad concert at Ewha Womans University in 2020. [NANAN KANG]

Nanan’s stage decoration in singer Lee Seung-hwan’s ″ Only Ballad concert at Ewha Womans University in 2020. [NANAN KANG]



You seem to be actively involved in business collaborations and have a lot of friends who are celebrities in the entertainment industry.
Yes, I did 12 or 13 artistic collaboration projects last year. I like collaborative projects because they make it easier for me to approach the public. In addition, they often become unexpected sources of inspiration and lead to new collaborations. For example, when I designed patterns for KwangJuYo’s tableware [a Korean premium porcelain maker] last year, I became more fascinated with traditional Korean porcelain pieces. This led to moon pots containing “Long Long Time Flower” pieces in this exhibit.
My famous friends are also a source of inspiration. I created stage sets for singer Lee Seung-hwan’s concert last year. He always impresses me with his passion and energy for music. He also gave me a wonderful present recently. When I asked him if he had any used pianos, after I got interested in playing the instrument, he sent me a beautiful vintage piano. My art is created amid exchanges of friendship and emotions with such wonderful friends.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [[email protected]]


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