Virgin Mary with three hands  , 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x130cm

Virgin Mary with three hands, 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x130cm

Execution  , 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x114 cm

Execution, 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x114 cm

Who wants to live forever  , 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x130cm

Who wants to live forever, 2013, acrylic and gold powder on canvas, 162x130cm


Text from the inverview MEMENTO MORI : Remember you will die, with Grace Joo, on October 2014 in Seoul

“The series Memento Mori focuses on the idea of a mechanism of death, which takes its form in human body and soul. Whereas death refers to an altered, incomplete status, caused by missing some parts from what used to be one, combined unit of body and soul, being ‘alive’ can described as a state where the connection between the two (body and soul) is still in existence; One can imagine physical parts like organs, nerves and hormones, fully functioning in accordance with its spiritual mind. Both of these two state belongs to the same mechanism which functions as one big organical structure that circles continuously. “Organic” in is the keyword for my work and therefore I’ve come to title my works organism. When expressing such feelings and ideas in drawings, I enjoy depicting pieces of slaughtered animals. This style was greatly influenced by anatomy and catholic religious art.

Especially, Memento Mori features series of skull. This has developed by actively manifesting the religious inspiration coming from « memento mori » which originated in the 17th century in europe as one of « Vanity » themes. Such theme conveys a strong message, remarking on nihilism of all living things on earth, including life of mankind. It, therefore, tells humankind to serve god with modesty and humility. Skull is Vanity’s the best representative allegory that symbolizes impotent human beings living the finite life. In such perspective, I’ve chosen to borrow the concept of skull.

If there is a difference to my works and the skull represented in « Vanity » theme, I would say that my work is directed towards adornment of death while « Vanity » stresses on the nihilistic meaning of life before death. I see death as a fascinating moment where one confronts pieces of body and soul after the separation from each other, just like the debris in the universe created after the Big Bang. This can be also compared to gateway that Mark Rothko had so strongly desired to enter so he could reach the « cosmos beyond the horizon ». This fundamentally puts death as a ceremonial event. Therefore, I believe death must be expressed as something not fearful, but glamorous and fancy. This is why, I’ve colored my works with brilliant gold, equivalent to the colors of the armor that soldiers wear to battlefield. In addition to the brilliant gold coloring. I’ve also embellished the skull with drawings based on knowledge in anatomy and religious scenes such as the Annunciation, the Assumption of Mary, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and more.”

Stella Sujin