With her speciality in jewellery design and knowledge of traditional Korean lacquer techniques, Chae brings these two different worlds together to create her own unique works of art. Chae started her career as a jewellery designer in 2000. Since then, she has received multiple awards, including the 2001 and 2005 International Pearl Design Competition held by Mikimoto, and the 2001 Asian Facet Award by Signity Hong Kong. She became the first Korean ever to win the SOLO Award at the 2017 Artexpo New York, and was also awarded by the International André Malraux Association at the International Cultural Heritage Fair held in Paris.
She started designing jewellery in 2000, with the ambition of creating “Wearable Art.” However she had always longed for an outlet to further express her creativity. Adding her experience of 20 years as a jewellery designer to the traditional art of lacquer, she started creating “sculptural paintings.”
While the traditional najeonchilgi technique involves attaching the mother-of-pearl to the surface with a hot iron, her work pursues a unique form of beauty, which is created by setting the mother-of-pearls onto a lacquered canvas with silver prongs. Thus, each piece created is both flat and voluminous, traditional and contemporary, painting-like and sculptural all at the same time. By using not only mother-of-pearl but also different precious stones such as traditional gemstones (such as coral, amber, jade, lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye), pearls, turquoise, her art represents the meeting point between painting and sculpture, conceptualism and realism.
Previously, her work has taken the form of “sculptural paintings,” bringing both painting and sculpture together into one. However, more recently she has started to take the opposite approach by deconstructing and separating these two genres in her art. While her previous work focused on the traditional smooth finish of the lacquer, some of her more recent work focuses more on color and texture. Although her work is based on traditional Korean lacquer paintings, the bold use of color and repetition of points and lines bring these paintings closer to Western art.
Working with traditional precious materials such as lacquer and mother-of-pearl, which both date back to traditional times, she has felt that her work embodies both the past and present. And is excited by the prospect of these two different genres and how they will further collaborate in the future.