Galerie Barbara Wien presents its first solo exhibition with the Korean artist Kim Yong-Ik (b. 1947, Seoul). Under the title of This is not the answer, the artist is showing a selection of major works stemming from the 1970s to today, including sculpture, painting and drawing.
Kim Yong-Ik is regarded as the understated rebel of the Korean art world. Over his 40 year-long career as an artist, writer and curator, Kim has always resisted aligning with dominant Korean art movements, from the minimalist group of painters associated with Dansaekhwa, which means 'monochrome painting', emerging in the mid-1970s, to those from the Minjung art movement in the 1980s seeking to depict realism and sociopolitical issues.
For his first-ever presentation in Germany, Kim shows a rare piece from his early series of works entitled 'Plane Object' (1974–1981). The Plane Objects are large, unstretched fabrics simply pinned to the wall, and which partly overlap in their loose hanging. Lightly airbrushed, their folds and creases look like they have just been unpacked. Back then, while finding recognition for his work, Kim made a break with his own practiceand with tradition: in 1981, when the artist was invited to participatein the 1st Young Artists Exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, he wrapped his work in a paper box and exhibited it in this form within the gallery space. Some regarded this action as 'career suicide'. Today, this artistic denial is seen as the starting point of Kim's conceptual re-orientation. It was a statement against both the existing formal experiments in visual arts and the social oppression caused by the military dictatorship in South Korea at that time. Here we will present the second version of that key work from1981 that he recreated in 2011 after loss of the original work. In the early 1990s, Kim began producing his series 'Closer... Come Closer...' that is also known as the 'polka dot paintings'. Kim painted neatly ordered polka dots, all the same size in black or white. In opposition to the precision of the dots and their pencil-grid which remains visible, the background is often smeared with dirt, vegetable juices andother everyday and ephemeral substances.
Kim counts as one of the pioneering conceptual artists in South Korea. Not only did he develop a unique style as a painter, he also integrated several concepts and methods within his work–such as the expansion of a painting or drawing into the gallery space by continuing to paint on the wall and create an overall installation. In his essay on Kim Yong-Ik, published in a new monograph on the artist by Cahiers d'Art in Paris, Philippe Vergne writes 'he [Kim] introduced into the Korean scenethe logic of conceptual art practices, as we know them in the West, andescaped the identity-driven debates of his predecessors and contemporaries'.
In his most recent works, Kim draws lightly with coloured pencil and pencil on large white canvases, repeating and overlaying the geometricalforms of squares and circles. These subtle works are challenging for the viewer's perception. The colours mix and through the thin application appear transparent; they create a complex colour space. These paintings offer a sense of negation or are like a rebellion against the subject itself–the colour and forms are shimmering like an invisible substance, more absent than present on a blank canvas.
Kim Yong-Ik, born 1947 in Seoul, Korea, lives and works in the rural region of Yangpyeong, near Seoul. He studied Painting at the renowned Hongik University in Seoul. He has had numerous international solo exhibitions at venues including Cahiers d'Art, Paris (2018); Kukje Gallery, Seoul (2018, 2016); Spike Island, Bristol and Korean Cultural Centre UK, London (both 2017); Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul (2016); Art Space Pool, Seoul (2011); and Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (1997). Additionally, Kim's group shows include Daejeon Museum of Art, Daejeon (2019); Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (2018); National Museum of Modern andContemporary Art, Seoul (2016, 1997, 1990); Yokohama Triennale (2014); Nam June Paik Art Center, Yongin (2013); Busan Biennale and Seoul Museumof Art (both 2012); Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwacheon; and Land Art Mongolia Biennale (all 2010) amongst many others. His work is part of renowned public collections worldwide, including Busan Metropolitan Art Museum; Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan; Ho-am Museum of Art, Seoul; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; M+, Hong Kong; MOCA, Los Angeles; Seoul Museum of Art; and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
In April 2019, Cahiers d'Art in Paris published a new monograph on Kim Yong-Ik, in collaboration with Tina Kim and Kukje Gallery. It includes essays by Philippe Vergne and Beck Jee-Sook, and an interview by Hans-Ulrich Obrist.
Press release courtesy Barbara Wien.