At an evening hosted by an architect friend in Milan a large abstract composition combining Asian calligraphy with paper collage caught my eye above the dinner table. Luckily the artist turned out to be a friend with a studio in the city. Entering Minjung’s studio felt like entering a traditional workshop, temple and small museum at the same time. An atmosphere of calm imbued with a sensitivity for Western art while a constant buzz was in the air, all qualities that filter through into Minjung’s art: a balance of colour and shape, of light and shadow, of material and void, of destruction and creation, of animated composition and tranquility: an overall equilibrium very few artists possess.
Minjung Kim’s works move within a vibrant tension field defined by tradition, technique and contemporary aesthetics. Delicate compositions of abstract origin, her works bear something genuine, pristine and natural and transmit a unique calmness and sensitivity.
Kim mostly uses traditional handmade Korean paper called Mulberry hanji, known for its haptic texture and sensual materiality. Unlike other artists emerging from traditional Eastern painting and partly working with historical media and methods, her paper collages and watercolours conceptually and visually fit into the canon of contemporary Western art. Even though aesthetic and technique may appear unusual to the Western spectator – brushstrokes with a calligraphic quality rather than a painterly impasto, outlines are created mostly through a careful and controlled burning process rather than drawing with ink or pencil; Kim’s works profit from both traditional Eastern and Western training and breathe the spirit of Tao as much as post-war abstract mark making
Some of Minjung Kim’s works are rendered in muted, earthy colours, or in monochrome tonalities like in her Mountain series, which possess a colour palette that links more to Asian prints, scrolls, or landscapes. Yet other, often large-scale compositions such as examples from the Alveare, Pieno di Vuoto or The Street series are rich in colour and recollect the embroideries by Alighiero Boetti. In her latest Phasing series Kim creates compositions where a burnt layer loosely copies the painted ink layer beneath. Both designs are slightly shifted and produce an almost imperceptible illusion in our perception.
The influence of Tao contributes to Kim’s interest in nature and in exploring philosophical principles in her art. Kim has for over two decades now created shapes and layered compositions by burning the edges or perforating it with the flame of a candle or incense. For Kim this repeated process symbolizes the transience of time and its layering into different time spheres.
Minjung Kim's work is present in numerous and important private and institutional collections as: Cavalier Agrati, Berlingieri and Goulandris private collection. Recent solo exhibitions include: Traces, OCI Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea (2015); The Light, The Shade, The Depth, Luxembourg & Dayan, Palazzo Caboto, Venezia, Italy (curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann) (2015); Minjung Kim. The Sound of Light, Macro – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy (2012).
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Phasing, 2017 (solo show)
Predestination, 2013 (solo show)
Landscape and Memory, 2011 (group show with Edward Collinson, Andy Goldsworthy, Runo Lagomarsino, Richard Long, Peter Matthews and Saad Qureshi)
Between, 2010 (group show with Susan Hefuna and Saad Qureshi)
Tension, 2009 (solo show)
Minjung Kim, Void in fullness, 2007 (solo show)
Watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper
32 x 21 cm
ink on mulberry Hanji paper
28 x 27 cm
Watercolour on mulberry Hanji paper
Mixed media on mulberry Hanji paper
140 x 200 cm