Oriental VisArt is pleased to present Korean artist Chinwook Kim’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland.
At first glance Chinwook Kim’s works appear as semi-abstract landscapes filled with life and nature. Works that are soft in palette and intricate with organic forms, reminiscent of detailed Japanese woodblock prints in which the figures inhabit a narrow foreground space and are defined only by simple ink outlines filled with flat areas of colour or textile patterns. However there is a sense of uneasiness and eeriness to the twisting forms that impose on each other, layer after layer, which reveal a far more complex and sober nature of what lies beneath and behind the tightly bound, gnarled forms. Only rarely is shading employed, and then it is confined to depictions of blurring the distinction between the detail and what appears to be black holes, spaces void of information or recall.
Looking at Kim’s artwork is like taking a walk through the forest of the artist’s mind – softly treading over and weaving our way around tangled and twisted bio-morphic shapes that suggest blooms, roots, stems and trunks, within which human and animal forms struggle to emerge. As we venture further, we sense that the difficult-to-decipher imagery has some deeply personal meaning for the artist – that comes from some zone of memory and feeling in his unconscious, and that we are venturing into aspects of unlocked memories, reality and fantasy as the artist responds to and retreats from the world around him. The canvas has become a palimpset in which feelings and memories stir only to be buried again in a cycle of consciousness and repression.1
Kim is an accomplished draughtsman; the works are drawn with dense hatching to create tonality, yet some of the most beautiful works in the series have black spots or areas that are drowned in shading, creating a haze where detail struggles to emerge. These works tell us about the mind of the artist; the surfaces are so dense with detail that the images feel airtight and dense. Spidery calligraphic lines create organic shapes that feel as through they are in perpetual motion, while washes, drips and glimpses of colour suggest second thoughts and erasures. Over a piece of white paper his horde of creeping forms are influenced by the mastery of medium and imagination of Heironymous Bosch, or the consummate delicacy and refinement of Aubrey Beardsley.
It is very often hard to even say what these shapes represent. In Inside and outside of landscape 16, 2011, and in Inside and outside of landscape 17, 2011, for example, it is not evident whether his human torsos are facing inwards or outwards – a tactic of illusion related to ideas of the natural world and the artist’s own inner world, and how these might collide and inter-relate. Often the surfaces of the works end up carrying a sense of ‘other-worldliness’, as if you’re not quite sure in which time these works exist. The artist is interested in conveying something of both worlds. He has designed an imaginary world, where his narratives from the inside and outside are put together like pieces of a puzzle.2
Chinwook Kim’s works unfold as do his conscious and subconscious states of mind. His works are the externalisations of his mind.
Born in 1972 in Korea, Chimwook Kim undertook his undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts in Seoul, before relocating to Europe and completing a second Bachelor of Fine Arts followed by his Masters in Germany, then after relocating to the UK he completed a further Masters of Fine Arts. His works have featured in numerous group exhibitions in the UK and Switzerland. « Externalisations of the Mind » is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland, presented by Oriental VisArt.
Sascha Gianella May, 2012
1. Dorment, R., Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective at Tate Modern, review. The Telegraph, UK, 08.02.10
2. Kim, Chinwook, Between Inside and Out, 2012