Helena Parada Kim is of mixed Korean-Spanish heritage, and has been brought up in Germany. This multicultural upbringing has profoundly influenced the young artist´s work, which centers around the question of identity. Parada Kim has always refused to directly identify with a certain nationality, preferring to remain in a blurry state.
During her time at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as a master student of Peter Doig she began to study her mother´s photography albums. She became thrilled by the elegant, feminine figures dressed in the traditional Korean costumes, the Hanbok, she found therein.
Using these family portraits as a basis, the artist initiated her own painted portraits, some with detailed faces, others featuring only the garments. They exude a mysterious, almost ghostly feel: just as photographs tend to fade with time, the artist renders her family members diffusely in her memory and in her art. With her work, Helena Parada Kim uses costume as both a cultural signifier and personal index of her heritage.
Portraits in general are the genre that Helena Parada Kim is using most frequently in her work. In this she is mainly influenced by the European tradition of portrait painting. She addresses a variety of topics of which Korean motifs play a major part.