Guimi You: Winter Blossom

Installation Views
Press release

My painting is all about my experience: What I see and what I do goes in every brushstroke, and through them, they are transformed into a landscape of memories, real and desired.

—Guimi You

For the Korean artist Guimi You, the most interesting subject is as mundane as her everyday life. Yet, by elegantly floating between winter breezes and spring blossoms, through each brushstroke, she is able to transform the ordinary into a continuous landscape of hazy, desired memories. 

The interplay between our perception of reality and its transformation through subjectivity has long captivated philosophers and artists alike. Leonora Carrington, a celebrated surrealist poet and artist, would say that art “is a magic which makes the hours melt away”: in the misty sceneries painted by You, we are granted a look into the intimate, dreamlike transformations of the every day into the picturesque where time seems to stop, capturing our full attention in the stillness of a portrayed second. 

The uniqueness of this sensation resides in the blending of a sweet longing for something fleeting (a memory), and a surreal ambiance that unlocks the door to the realm of the subconscious (the transformation of a memory into a dream). Formally expressed by the peculiar synthesis of both Eastern and Western artistic traditions, the harmonious alternation between vague and precise lines defines the distinctive atmosphere of Guimi You’s body of work. At times, it evokes the traditional Korean painterly approach to depicting nature, while at others, it connects with the work of Nabi artists such as Pierre Bonnard, whose choice of color resonates with her painting in the ability to render gentle expressionism. 


Each palette becomes a manifestation of the artist’s emotions, deeply interwoven with seasonal representation, in an alternating fusion of winter and spring. This transformation occurs when interwoven with the personal, offering an intimate glimpse into You’s daily moments through vibrant renditions. Throughout the exhibition, we come to experience a unique take on the charm of the city of Seoul: in Still Books, the view from a local bookshop visited with the artist’s son is dyed pastel pink, while in Yellow Flowers, the idyllic park of Seoul Forest is depicted through a warm blend of yellow, purple, and red tones. 

Recalling Goethe’s study on the psychological dimensions of colors, You’s oeuvre narrates a world intrinsically romantic, one where a gloaming sunset welcomes someone dear home, or where a contemplating moment in front of a familiar lake is caressed by a cool breeze. While each centers around a personal element, it exudes a sense of familiarity, connecting with the viewer’s own life and experiences. Thus, while belonging to what Kant would refer to as the picturesque, where beauty is captured by each painting becoming expansive, the artist also transcends these bounds, reaching into the realm of the sublime, where beauty touches our inner selves. 

In a balancing dance, the works presented at Make Room serve as a reminder of the significance of our everyday, ordinary lives, and how, when we hold onto these memories of the mundane, we transform them into a poetic dreamscape. 


—Valentina Buzzi, October 2023


The practice of Guimi You is informed by her training in both traditional Korean portrait and landscape painting and oil painting. Her work combines the lucidity and richness of both traditions, resulting in canvases reveling in the beauty of natural environments and the communication of joy through pigment. You’s paintings blend and blur reality and daydreams with a sense of magical realism. They astound in their intimacy and playfulness.

Guimi You (b. 1985, Seoul) received her MA in painting from the Royal College of Art, London in 2014, and holds a BFA and an MFA in Korean portraiture and landscape art (San-su hwa) from Seoul National University, Korea in 2008 and 2011. Her work is in the public collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne The Perimeter, London, Yuz Museum in Shanghai, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Museum of Art, Seoul National University; the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami; the Columbus Museum of Art; Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Pond Society, Shanghai; and the College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University. Guimi You currently lives and works in Seoul, South Korea. You will be participating in the NGV Triennial 2023 in Australia.