Jang Koal

A mysterious portrait of modern women

Jang Koal (she/her) was born in 1989 in Ulsan, South Korea. She now lives and works in Seoul, South Korea.

Early Influences

Since childhood, Jang Koal has had a passion for drawing. Growing up with her grandparents, she often visited Buddhist temples. She was transfixed by the art she saw inside them. These early inspirations still echo throughout her practice today.

Education

Koal is a self-taught artist who has never done any formal art training. She did, however, study animation in high school. After graduating, she moved to Seoul in 2007 to pursue a career in art.

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Collaborations with Jang Koal

Avant Arte and Jang Koal have one upcoming collaboration.

Practice overview

The women Jang Koal paints are quiet and surreal. They’re comfortable with the subtle weirdness that surrounds them. Inspired by personal memories, the portraits also become alter egos – fantasy versions of the artist herself. This sense of dreaminess is cultivated in the vivid colour palette. Koal carefully blends the tones together, mixing different types of paint and pigment. She then applies this to hanji, a traditional Korean paper, that gives the paintings a translucent effect. That artist also ventures into sculpture, creating resin busts. Historically, these were sculptural portraits of people with status – but Koal flips this on its head, sculpting invented characters instead.

Black cats are a recurring motif in Koal's paintings. Despite their typical association with bad luck, she depicts them as angels that form circles around the women. This references the occult, and the belief that standing in a circle wards off supernatural dangers. By using the black cat symbol as one of protection, she again flips tradition on its head. The cats become companions to the female figures, and Koal creates a secret language between the two. She explores the affinity between human and animal, suggesting we are not as different as we seem.

“Losing one’s sense of curiosity and the will to discover something new is even scarier than the unknown”Jang Koal