Jiwon Kim is a contemporary Korean artist recognised for his paintings of ordinary objects and landscapes. Drawn directly from his surroundings, Kim's works reveal the artist's persistent exploration of the world and the medium of painting.Read More
Kim studied at Inha University, Incheon, where he received a BFA (1988), and then at the Städelschule State Academy of Fine Arts, Frankfurt (1994).
The subjects of Jiwon Kim's paintings, ranging from cockscombs and still life to natural and urban landscapes, engage with acts of seeing and of the transferral of the world onto the canvas.
Kim's longstanding interest in the medium of painting is apparent in his 'The Beginning of Painting—In the Corner' series (1994–2004), which portrays enigmatic scenes that prompt questions about the pictorial image.
In The Beginning of Painting—In the corner 2 (1994), for example, a winged figure in a wheelchair reaches through an ambiguous threshold to tap an adjacent wall with his cane. The man may be in a doorway, entering an interior space from the outside, or may be stepping out of a picture frame into a gallery space—the distinction between reality and fiction is unclear, while the image itself is a work of fiction, a painted image on canvas.
Kim's most well-known series of paintings, ongoing since 2002, was inspired by cockscombs (known as mendrami in Korean) seen by the artist during a trip to Gangwon Province. Kim was fascinated by the flowers not because they looked beautiful, but because they looked strange, in the way their petals reached full bloom and withered away. Cockscombs in Kim's paintings are heavy with themes of both life and death, abstracted into masses of saturated pink in Mendrami (12) (2013) or an impression of fading grey and black in Mendrami (2018).
Kim has also engaged with a range of other subjects, as shown in his solo exhibition Canvas Fly at Seoul's PKM Gallery in 2019, which included around 90 paintings, drawings, and installations. Among them were a number of paintings titled Fly (2014), which depict aerial views of the artist's studio, consisting of miscellaneous objects such as wire, toy aeroplanes, used paint brushes, and branches arranged into mobile-like structures.
Also on view were paintings titled Landscape, belonging to the eponymous series begun in 2002, that depict snippets of natural landscapes as well as a fountain in action. Rich in detail and texture, the Landscape paintings capture the immediacy of the environment described in each painting.
In addition to his paintings of mendrami and landscapes in LEMON, his solo exhibition at PKM Gallery in 2022, Kim presented a new body of work revolving around the lemon. The fruit is the sole subject of paintings titled Lemon, rendered larger-than-life in its characteristic yellow, evoking the sensation of its fresh sourness.
Jiwon Kim's work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include LEMON, PKM Gallery, Seoul (2022); Wandering-Flower Shop, Space MOM Museum of Art, Cheong-ju (2019); Kim Jiwon: Wall of Painting, Daegu Art Museum (2015); Becoming The Horizon, Johyun Gallery, Busan (2014).
Group exhibitions include Wonki Sul Collection: "1+1 A Collector's View", ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul (2021); Prospect: Nature, See, Dokdo and Eyes of Artist, Woljeon Museum of Art Icheon (2020); The Square: Art and Society in Korea, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Gwacheon (2019); Botanica, Busan Museum of Art (2018).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2022