France and US-based South Korean artist Minjung Kim's abstract works on paper are a testament to her process that focuses on meditation and healing.Read More
Minjung Kim was born in 1962 in Gwangju, South Korea. Encouraged by her parents to pursue art at an early age, Kim began her studies into oriental calligraphy when she was thirteen. Kim completed her BFA in Oriental Painting from Hongik University in Seoul in 1985, staying on to complete her MFA in the same programme shortly thereafter.
In 1991, Kim relocated to Milan to pursue her second MFA at the Brera Academy of Fine Art. During this time, she was interested in exploring the work of Western artists who integrated Oriental techniques into their work, such as Swiss-German artist Paul Klee and American painter Franz Kline. After her studies, Kim went on to spend her time between the US and France.
Kim's artworks are often characterised by her intricate and subtle ink compositions on several layers of paper. The influence of Kim's study into oriental painting and watercolour is clearly seen in her paintings through the ways she renders shadow, value, depth, and clarity. Taking an abstracted approach to painting, her works appear to be understated and deliberate, playing with negative space and simple shapes such as circles, lines, and squares.
Through her practice, Kim re-interprets traditional Korean aesthetics with an emphasis on process. Before painting, Kim burns and layers several sheets of traditional Korean paper—mulberry hanji paper—a repetitive process that references the act of meditation and emotional healing. While Kim often uses monochromatic tones in her paintings, she also utilises a variety of colours to create vibrant pieces that are still able to evoke a meditative tone to the viewer.
Some of her works are extremely intricate and dizzying, such as in her mixed media series Insight (2017), where tens of circles are drawn, perfectly aligned to each other, some overlapping to create visual vibrations and a gradient across the paper's surface. Other works like Predestination (2020) give ample space to breathe, where colourful circles are littered across the surface connected only by simple lines to create a network.
While most of Kim's works have no clear physical and representational reference, she sometimes experiments with landscapes and space. In Mountain (2023; 2022; 2017; 2015; 2007) works, for example, the artist plays with colour and shadow to create a mountainscape similar to the Japanese inking style of Sumi-E; in New York (2023), she positions a cluster of dotted rectangles at its centre.
In 2015, Kim's work was shown concurrently with the 56th Venice Biennale. Her survey exhibition Minjung Kim: The Light, The Shade, The Depth presented three distinct trajectories in her practice over the past 15 years.
Minjung Kim has been widely exhibited internationally.
Solo exhibitions include: Fondazione Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, Italy; OCI Museum of Art, Seoul; Musée des Arts asiatiques, Nice, France; Hill Art Foundation, New York; and Guanshanyue Art Museum, Shenzen, China.
Group exhibitions include: the British Museum; Gwangju Biennale; and RISD Museum, USA. Her work has been collected by institutions such as the Samsung Museum of Art; Asia Society; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Fundación Helga de Alvear.
Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2023