People / Critic

Kim Hong-joo pursues principle of painting

posted 08 April 2020

Installation view of Kim Hong-joo's exhibition

Installation view of Kim Hong-joo's exhibition 《Forms That Cannot Be Forms》 at The Great Collection in southern Seoul. Courtesy of The Great Collection

Veteran artist Kim Hong-joo continues to renew his enthusiasm over art and pursues the essence of painting displayed through previously unseen works now on view in 《Forms That Cannot Be Forms》 an inaugural exhibition of The Great Collection in southern Seoul.

Three paintings and a sculpture are on display and they share certain similarities even though delivered in different mediums as Kim pursues "a sculpture-like painting" and "a painting-like sculpture."

Best known for his paintings of flowers, Kim's latest works have evolved into more abstract shapes without specific forms.

The 75-year-old artist still spends most of his day at a studio atop the hillside neighborhood of Pyeongchang-dong, continuously making strokes with a slender brush or chipping away at block of wood.

"Previously, I depicted flowers with a slender brush. I still use a similar painting method, but the likeness dwindled away, leaving the abstract form," Kim said during a conversation with Moon Sung-sic, 39, a noted artist and one of Kim's students, Saturday.

Moon Sung-sic, left, and Kim Hong-joo converse at Kim's studio in Pyeongchang-dong, Seoul, Saturday. Courtesy of The Great Collection

Moon Sung-sic, left, and Kim Hong-joo converse at Kim's studio in Pyeongchang-dong, Seoul, Saturday. Courtesy of The Great Collection

Kim's artistic world was shaped in the 1970s when he joined the S.T (space and time) Group, a society of young artists who pursued conceptual and experimental art.

While working as an art teacher, Kim could not give up his passion and continued to paint. His early hyperrealist works were painted on daily objects such as mirrors, doorframes and windows, contrasting the image and the actual object.

Kim's painting is alluring, making the viewers take a closer look at the fine detail. Kim said painting is rather primitive and original in the era of photographic records.

"The symbolism of images is now represented by exact reproduction of photographic images. Instead, I want the viewers to feel the same sensation as my brush touching the canvas. When I painted flowers, I did not depict the flower, but painted my feelings," Kim said. "I use slender brushes so the delicate feelings can reach the viewers, unlike rough, intense brushstrokes of Expressionist artists who poured out their thoughts."

Moon said Kim's intuitive and sensuous brushstrokes are based on Korean traditional art.

"If the artist's motivation comes from outside ― to position himself or sell paintings ― the screen cannot have power like Kim's. Kim's passion for new challenge lightens the painting," Moon said.

Kim Hong-joo's

Kim Hong-joo's 〈Untitled〉 (2020) / Courtesy of The Great Collection

Art critic Chiba Shigeo commented on Kim's recent works, "I discovered when my gaze became one with my body, thereby extending my internalized experience, while at the same time comparing it to the view from the outside."

Kim said he tried to break out from conventional painting and frames.

"Western painting is based on rationalism and a painting is created on a screen, separated from the real world, whether it is abstract or figurative. However, I just want to paint without marking the boundary between the screen and the environment. That is why I insisted on displaying my works at the gallery without frames, so the canvas fabric can blend in with the background," Kim said.

Kim's wooden sculptures, which are rarely on view, began as his pastime, but it became part of his oeuvre as he applied colored paints to the chiseled textures.

"It shares the same spirit as my paintings though in a different medium," Kim said.

Kim's works are on view through March 28.

The Great Collection is a new gallery featuring a series of exhibits exploring how the concept of "collection" impacts appreciation of an artwork. Located on the second floor of a residential house tucked away in Jamwon-dong, the gallery aims to discover new artists as well as unreleased works of established artists in a private space, providing an opportunity to take a closer look at a selection of carefully selected artworks.

The gallery is available on a reservation basis for a more private viewing experience. For more information, call 02-6951-2980 or visit the venue's Instagram @thegreatcommission2820.

 Kim Hong-joo's

Kim Hong-joo's 〈Untitled〉 (1990) / Courtesy of The Great Collection

※ This article was originally published in The Korea Times on 15 MARCH 2020, and reposted under authority of The Korea Times
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Kwon Mee-yoo

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