An important element of Choi Jeong-Hwa’s work is the desire to bring art into the everyday.

Choi Jeong-Hwa’s work is hard to resist. Lively, vibrant, even gaudy, his large-scale inflatable fabric or fibreglass sculptures of flowers and fruit offer a riotous explosion of colour. The infectious pleasure which his sculptures induce is often reflected in their titles – from Happy Together (2004) to Happy, Happy, Happy (2003), or two new works for the Mori Art Museum’s opening show Happiness, Choi Jeong-Hwa’s sculptures appear infinitely joyful.

Part of the pleasure of his work lies in its simplicity. With their bold colours and easily recognisable forms, the works are accessible to all. But this familiarity of form derives less from the world of nature (despite the frequent occurrence of flowers and fruit) than from the everyday landscape of contemporary consumer culture. This is the source of Choi Jeong-Hwa’s inspiration and materials (plastic, man-made fabric, fibreglass). A celebration but also a critique of consumerism, if his works are pleasurable to the eye, then they also question the nature of the pleasure they give.

One of his earlier inflatable works, A Vision of Happiness for 0.5 Seconds (1995), showed a giant pig with a sack of money on his back. The pig, in Korea, symbolises health, prosperity and good luck. In Western culture, it stands for the opposite, a symbol of unhealthy appetite, of consumption run riot. Touch Me, an inflatable sculpture for Sao Paulo Biennale XXIV (1998), finds a natural model for the destruction that can go hand in hand with consumption. A brightly coloured exotic plant performs a seductive dance, tentacles beckoning gently to the viewer. The plant is a member of the Nepenthes family, an insect-eating species, which entice and then devour their victims.

Happy, Happy, Happy (2003) is a piece which symbolically reverses the cycle of consumption and waste. During a residency at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the artist invited local residents to bring plastic objects to the museum which they would otherwise have discarded. These formed the basis for a changing installation, constantly augmented and rearranged by visitors to the gallery. An important element of Choi Jeong-Hwa’s work is the desire to bring art into the everyday. Here the artist brings the everyday into the gallery, and, in so doing, challenges the public to find beauty amidst the haphazard collection of plastic objects.

For International 04, Choi Jeong Hwa created Happy Together (2004), a garland of blossoms for Lime Street station. Fantastic, decorative, eye catching, it was designed to compete in the sea of information and advertisements which dominate the station concourse.

Happy Together, 2004
Inflatable Installation
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Lime Street Station



Visiting Arts