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- Chan-Hyo Bae
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- Existing in Costume (1)
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Chan Hyo Bae was born in Busan, South Korea, in 1975. After graduating in photography from Kyung-Sung University in Busan in 2003, he left for England, where he took out a further degree from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Since moving to Toronto to work he has shown regularly in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia.
Chan Hyo Bae focuses on the complexity of relationships between East and West, and the exacerbating influence of colonial imperialism. "As I see it," he says, "Orientalism was born out of Western cultural preconceptions about Asia a conquered territory: out of a false image that sees the culture of the other from an ethnocentric, self-absorbed point of view. It was this kind of anti-Oriental prejudice that suddenly made me aware of the chaotic, alienated state of my own identity—a confusion I try to show in my work. This notion is my guiding thread, as is already evident in the choice of pictures I drew on for my early photographic work. I began by examining portraits stressing England's power, superiority and spirit of enterprise: portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, for example, which highlight the forces behind the building of the British Empire. As tools for asserting the power of the monarch, these portraits in oils are very different from their Asian equivalents, which use watercolour and emanate a greater impression of gentleness. This led me to opt for the same language as Western painters of the past, with its marked colour contrasts and forceful composition.
"My recent work on fairy tales deals even more explicitly with the feelings of alienation and prejudice I see at the core of Western culture. This involved studying and interpreting the most representative of these tales, like Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast. What I found was class-based social organisation and, above all, the implicit message that in order to be happy, the weak must submit to the order of things established by the strong. This is historically true, in that victorious Westerners have always reinforced their power by instilling their ideologies into those they have conquered."