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(Yonhap Interview) Artist builds inner space on flat surface, attempts mission impossible

2018/02/06 15:49

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By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- It all started decades ago with a simple desire to become different.

Every time Kim Hyun-sik read art magazines, he was frustrated to find out that there was always an artist or two who was already doing things similar to what he had been thinking about. A young Kim, just fresh out of college, stopped reading them all together.

Desperate, he set out to establish his own individual art style so unique and completely new that others might find it rather reckless, if not outright impossible, to try to copy his work -- such as creating three-dimensional depth on a two-dimensional surface.

This undated photo provided by artist Kim Hyun-sik on Feb. 6, 2018, shows Kim standing in front of his artworks. (Yonhap) This undated photo provided by artist Kim Hyun-sik on Feb. 6, 2018, shows Kim standing in front of his artworks. (Yonhap)

"Paintings are done on a plane surface. It is the basic rule. I wanted to do my artistic experiment while sticking to the basics," the artist told Yonhap News Agency Tuesday before a press briefing for his solo exhibition, "Light Reverberates," at Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul.

"I knew it was going to be a difficult journey, but I persisted in finding a way to present art on a plane in a way that was unseen or only existed in your imagination."

   The exhibition, which shows 46 of his artworks, is his first solo show in Korea in six years. In recent years, he has heavily participated in exhibitions and art fairs outside Korea organized by such foreign galleries as London's Saatchi and MDZ Art Gallery in Knokke, Belgium.

This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows an artwork from the "Half of It" series by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap) This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows an artwork from the "Half of It" series by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap)

This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows "Percy the Yellow" by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap) This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows "Percy the Yellow" by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap)

From afar, his artworks look like monochrome abstract paintings. But a closer look reveals that they are not so much paintings as sculptures built with seven to eight layers of epoxy resin, as thin as 1.5 centimeters in total, inside an aluminum or wooden frame.

Hair-thin strands of colored resin, cut by hand with a pointed gimlet, build space and volume, turning the two-dimensional flat surface into what the artist calls an "infinite space."

   Although the countless, repetitive acts of cutting or drawing are, in the artist's own words, physically very demanding, it is another important rule in his art making that he can't afford to ignore, he said.

Born in 1965 in Sancheong, a small county in North Gyeongsang Province, he has always liked to travel and wander around. When he was an art student at Hongik University in Seoul, he would leave for days. His penchant for travel eventually led him to look into his inner world, he said.

Comparing himself with a travel guide, he said, "By making art, I travel into my inner self and ask myself questions ... I also think of myself guiding people in front of my artwork, and then let them totally engage with it and get immersed in its inner space."

  

This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows an artwork from the "Half of It" series by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap) This image provided by Hakgojae Gallery in Seoul on Feb. 6, 2018, shows an artwork from the "Half of It" series by artist Kim Hyun-sik. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr

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