Gender, culture, isolation, prejudice, and stereotypes are explored in the work of Korean photographer Chan-Hyo Bae. Since graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2007, Bae has expressed in his work the feelings of cultural and emotional estrangement he experienced when he first came to study in England. His series Existing in Costume, 2007-16, saw him posing in a variety of female historical western costumes, integrating himself into a history and society from which he felt excluded. Researched in meticulous detail, he created elaborate scenes of himself as a noblewoman from Elizabethan to Regency periods.

Over the past ten years he has drawn further on the idea of placing himself into a collective consciousness within the dimensions of nationality. Bae has chosen as his subject Tudor history as well as the realms of western fairy tales, and witch hunting narratives: stories that have permeated our culture and become embedded into our general psyche.

In Bae’s recent series Jumping Into, he puts himself at the centre of paintings from the collection of the National Gallery, London, by painters including Titian, Rubens and de Beer. Selecting paintings of Christian or mythological subject his historical impersonations enter the realm of the surreal, as the artist sets himself into a newly crafted animal skin patchwork painting.  The paint seems to be cracking, disappearing in parts, as the artist pastes in the layers of his new composition.

Human faith lies at the core of the projects, as a triggering agent towards collective violence, social taboos and estrangement. While his works observe the relationship between the West and himself as an individual Asian man, his projects have expanded the discourse to the realm of humanity, culture and society. 


Chan-Hyo Bae (born 1975, Busan, South Korea) studied Photography at Kyung-Sung University, South Korea and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. He has exhibited internationally at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Photography, Seoul; National Museum of Singapore; Kunsthalle, Vienna; Royal Academy, London; Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg; and Chennai Photo Biennale. His work is held in numerous collections including those of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Museum of Photography, Seoul. A monograph Existing in Costume was published by the Museum of Photography, Seoul in 2019.