MINA CHEON AKA KIM IL SOON: Dreaming Unification : Protest Peace


“Dreaming unification is protesting peace as the new global condition.”

Ethan Cohen Gallery is honored to present Mina Cheon aka Kim Il Soon’s solo exhibition “Dreaming Unification : Protest Peace.” As we face our challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic and a stressful post-election, our countries remain divided. Today’s resounding words from the US President-elect Joe Biden are “not to divide, but to unify.” And, we do this with our social consciousness intact, with social justice and anti-racism efforts in the forefront, while dreaming unification and protesting for peace.

Art for Life, Masks On!

From the divided Koreas to the divided United States of America, desiring peace “over-there” echoes desiring peace “over-here.” While another pandemic lockdown looms over us, art must continue as a banner of hope and as an essential in life.


In her dream world, artist Mina Cheon's North Korean art persona, aka "Kim Il Soon," paints the Korean national third flag, the Unification Flag, in a new body of work of flag figurations, Dreaming Unification : Protest Peace painting series. Tapping into her stream of unconsciousness to promote a future of unity and peace, flags are raised in this exhibition to recall past interKorean efforts including the Olympics, athletic teamwork, Arirang Mass Games, and other public events that celebrated “One Korea.” This is done as a protest for peace in contrast to the discouraging chaos and canceled peace talks in the Peninsula. New spectacles arise with ongoing threats from North Korea with the blowing up of InterKorean Liaison Office building at Kaesong on June 16th and the 75th Anniversary Worker’s Party military celebration on October 10th parading new ICBMs just this year 2020.

From a series of 20 pieces completed in 2019, shared in 2020, submerged in the custom-made New IKB (Yves Klein Blue) paint, using stencil, spray, sumi ink on canvas, each flag painting is a symbolic new figuration, a body that parades in a procession for peace. At the gallery, these Unification Flags pose as figures floating in space and centering the 10 x 5 feet symphonic triptych, where East meets West in the stormy “Dreaming Unification: Protest Peace (Triptych Flag Figuration East Meets West, Joseonhwa Protest Art).” 


For the past decade, Kim Il Soon has been painting in the socialist realism propaganda style, hot pink drip abstract expressionism, and in New IKB dip conceptual paintings (with custom-paint inspired by Yves Klein's International Klein Blue). As she masters Western art styles and dreams for liberation within the canvas as well as from the North Korean regime, the new series as “protesting peace” is done with stencils and spray paint and sumi ink, hitting the cord of North Korean most revered painting style, Joseonhwa (sumi ink, rice paper hanji, traditional oriental painting technique applied to North Korean propaganda contents) and the cosmopolitan expression of protest art style using stencil, spray, tagging.