Kulim Kim is a pioneer of avant-garde Korean art, who has been experimenting with various genres such as painting, sculpture, happening, installation, mail art, and land art. In 1970 Kim established a performance group named ‘The Fourth Group’ with Jung Chan-seung and Chung Kang-ja. Kim presented performances that criticizes the present system and set a huge impact to the Korean art scene. Kim’s works have always reflected contemporary life and the artist still presents an avant-garde attitude today.
The word ‘first’ is used often to describe Kim’s works made during the 1960s and 1970s which was the prime of his artistic activities. is the first experimental film of Kim in which 24 image frames are shown over a span of one second without any governing narrative structure. which is regarded as the first mail art in Korea, was collaborated with Kim Cha-seop. There is a red fingerprint on one piece of paper and a black fingerprint on another one. These were sent to 80 artists, 20 newspapers 3 times sending 300 letters in total. The last letter they sent was written with the phrase “You appreciated Relics of Mass Media a day ago”.
During the 1970s Kim produced works that change in the course of time. His video work , made in 1974, shows the artist wiping a steel surface. Kim tried to show how the surface changes through his continuous actions without any dialogue. This work reflects how Kim pursued to express time as a physical trace. In another work titled , the artist presented time, which is tangible, through an object. The works above show how Kim combined objects with his actions and tried to express time in a physical matter.
Kim also produced the still life series during the 1970s, which shows the artist’s will to produce experimental art. The series are derived from traditional genre of still life paintings and question the essence of art. The work is a combination of drawings, painting and written with words on hemp instead of a canvas. Kim overlaps images, signifiers, and meanings and eventually alludes that any symbol of painting cannot perfectly describe objects. Kim makes it clear that an action of painting is merely a trace which is momentary and infinitely variable.
At the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s Kim’s works are titled in general. The title is an individualistic name that represents works with no particular meaning and points out the characteristic of the work which is in harmony with various images. The works which are composed of paintings and collages contain a critical message of contemporary civilization by dismantling and reconstructing fragmental images which emphasize ‘today’.
The history of what in Europe and North America has been categorised in an art-historical context as performance art is one that continues to be revised and retold in East Asia. The body as a tool, language and artistic medium developed in the visual arts in Korea under precarious social and political environments and conditions.
A strong lineup of art shows are being offered this fall, more so than other seasons.With two big biennale events – the Gwangju Biennale and Busan Biennale – kicking off last week, major Korean museums and galleries have opened a plethora of exhibitions to attract the influx of international art professionals and local art lovers.