Pauline Sunhee Choi is a Korean born Canadian artist based in Paris. After completing her studies in film and experimental art at the Ontario College of Art and Design she attended the graduate study off-campus program in New York. Choi then proceeded to teach at OCAD before moving to Paris with an award from the Cité Internationale des Arts. Choi subsequently taught at the Parsons School of Design in Paris. She has exhibited her work extensively and received awards in Canada, Europe, and Korea.
Choi’s early practice as a filmmaker influenced two central aspects of her paintings: her interest in the play between shadow and light and her desire to inscribe the passage of time into her work. Her Luminous Paintings, which were first shown in 1993 at the Grand Palais in Paris, are executed on a semi-transparent, film-like material called mylar, which is lit from behind by slim luminescent panels of LED light. The artist builds up layers of color on this unusual base, working in traditional oils but sometimes drawing into the paint with graphite, and occasionally combining two or more sheets so that the resulting image has a slight shimmer and blur. This process of layering and superimposition allows the painting to grow and change as it evolves, and the final image is a synthesis of this multi-layered experience. Once the paintings are lit, they change in response to the controllable intensity of the LED panel or the passing hours of the day: the singing colors glow with new intensity as night falls and the illuminated paintings glow in the dark.
Choi draws the subjects of her Luminous Paintings from the vast arena of nature: night skies, dark forests, radiant flowers. Her preoccupation with nature, together with the scroll-like format of her mylar paintings, recall elements of traditional Asian art, not least the ‘spirit of resonance’ or vitality, which alludes to a flow of energy through an artist and their work. The artist’s glowing, back-lit colors also recall the jewel-like effects of stained-glass in dark churches, although traditional religious sentiment has been replaced by Choi’s awareness of an intense life force that pulses through both nature and her work.
Choi’s Luminous Paintings exist in various formats, ranging from easel-size works for the wall to full-scale installations. New technologies and materials have allowed her to create works that can be suspended overhead or on walls – or even laid into the floor – to simulate the sky or nature. The magical experience of standing in a space created from panels of glowing, luminous color, bears witness to Choi’s ability to expand the boundaries of painting. Her Luminous Paintings are in fact situated on the borders of different mediums such as cinema, painting, installation, and sculpture. They are a cornerstone of her highly original artistic practice.