Suengyea Park: Saatchi Online’s Critics Choice By Georgia Haagsma

Anthropomorphism, or the practice of ascribing human characteristics to animals, can be used to question or reaffirm human identity. By showing what animals lack and humans possess, we can emphasize our superiority as a species or conversely, show our inner beast.

An exercise related to this is the creation of entities that are neither human nor animal – used for example by ancient civilizations to visualise their gods. In our society it has moved away from the religious connotation. Hybrids are popularized in books, movies and the visual arts and can function as highly powerful tools of cultural commentary. They can also be seen as reflections of the human psyche.

The South Korean Suengyea Park uses visuals of animals and her own self-portrait to assemble new animal-like creatures. Her intention is to explore her inner monster, and to express this visually using, sometimes iconic imagery.

Park’s version of Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound (Hell Hound, (2011)), is a modern adaptation of one of the most ancient mythological creatures. Humanizing the dog’s fierce temper Park worked with his facial expressions – meaning that in the end result the aggression is not shown through his teeth but found in his eyes. The work is much less disturbing however than her earlier Tame (2010), where the dog’s characteristics are interpreted in a much more abstract and violent way.

A more subtle and slightly more surrealist work is Fish (2010) in which a man holding a fish amalgamates with the animal, creating an impossible creature breathing sadness and loneliness. The fish is out of the water and unable to move suggesting helplessness and a sense of being lost.

Stunning and surprising is Park’s technique – most works are hand drawn and executed with acrylic and pen on paper, showing great drawing skills as well as a wild imagination. Her young, almost child-like features give his drawings and paintings an elfish feel. The works are dark with a hint of irony and are an excellent example of psychological hybridization, using the animal’s qualities to embellish human emotion.

See Suengyea’s profile on Saatchi Online

A Hand Bug


About the author

Georgia Haagsma studied at the University of Amsterdam, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and moved to London to finish her BA in Cultural Studies at University College London, where she graduated with honours in Art, Science and Practice. She worked in the Press Department at the Saatchi Gallery from February to June 2009 and is now a Gallery Assistant at a contemporary art gallery in London as well as a freelance art critic.


  1. Bell says:

    Actually, I’ve read her book ‘Diary of nightmare’ before. It was a kanda story of her memory from bad dream. The book hangs between life and death showing real and surreal.
    Sometimes theses catastrophes’ history included not only sadness but happiness. I feel like you would be able to understand her visual work better, if you read her nightmare story. It was also great.
    From that on, you will be known, her self-portrait talks through her personal life that human is too weak and cruel to live to better off. It could be some story of delusion in human society. Of course,,Just my feeling though.

  2. Seungyea Park says:

    Thank you Bell for the comment, and also reading my book.
    People often confused that I record dreams which I have for nights is the one inspires me to creat. However, actually I believe having nightmare is one of my creation while I’m sleeping. While I am awaken, I do work with my concsiousness, and during I’m sleeping, I do work with my unconcsiousness. Therefore, I make two different types of works in those two different worlds just like I have more than ‘One’ in my drawings. :)
    Thanks again for feeling, reading, and writting about my works.


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