Yong Ho Ji’s love of Mother Nature and a longing for a sustainable environment translates seamlessly into his work. Ji learnt his craft in his home town of Seoul and finished up a masters degree at New York University in 2008 on the Fine Art course.
His ethos on life and his work is authentically humble, lacking a certain haughtiness artists are prone to exude. While pondering the notion of what an artist is or should be, Ji says he tries to be “a good man rather than a good artist”. His series of animal and mutant pieces have graced the likes of Seoul, Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam in solo exhibitions. Environmental issues of sustainable resources and deforestation seep heavily into Ji’s work. After graduating from NYU he worked almost exclusively with abandoned tires, quite aptly referring to the heap of tires at the rear of his studio as his ‘buddies’.
Having always wanted to employ a unique material, Ji’s epiphany to use old tires stemmed as a reaction to the unnecessary extraction of the natural gum found in rubber trees. “If people leave the rubber tree as it is, it could live its own life naturally”, he goes on to explain, “this kind of intervention from people makes me have more care for the environmental field”.
Along with his many studio assistants, Ji slices into each tire pulling from it thin strips, then carefully layers and glues these to the various structures he has cast. Half human half animal mutants and woodland creatures were the focus of his early work. Ji’s sculptures give off a dark, heaving and looming air but in turn breath new life into the art form, with an environmental conscience rebelling from producing art just for art’s sake.