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Myungsook Kim

Myungsook Kim, Savina Museum of Contemporary Art

Birth

1960, Seosan, South-Korea

Genre

Painting

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Requiem I, 2013

Oriental ink on paper, 95 x 75cm

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  The surface of Myungsook Kim is a inner-space of a singleton who confronts with a world and destiny, and what she is drawing is humans and forests. They refresh the power of human being and catches out the facial expression of a moment.
  The surface is limited to the monotone which avoid; rhetoric and decoration. The effect of giving gravity, neat and solemn mood rise by using spot light on specific part. The spot light controls the whole surface and it focuses on small things. The surface acquires tension and mystery. The dark, damp, deep, ambiguous surface keep the memory of the things that are left the artist and it radiates the tragic color and damp smell. The figures in her pictures are ‘the people who breathe the world’ and who tries to catch their power and spirit. Come to think of it, I feel like I know what she is trying to draw. Maybe she gave shape to the magical moment of opening its body secretly by breathing with the universe.
 
  Her painting resembles her gesture. Also it overlaps with her voice which is deep and plosive that comes out from pharynx carried with shake and vibrate. Thousands of lines that are shaking and overlapping, solemn and heavy mood, power of serious spirit that cause fear, all these elements makes us look at the painting with an awe. The body that is longing for high and pure spirit, fleet and sensitive soul, by rubbing the lines on the surface. It seems like she is reaching to the outside world. Immense papers are fraying and ripped taking her desperately. By doing that, the trees, forest and big heads seem like they are coming out mystically from the darkness.
 
  The painting that looks like it is drawn by a body and soul, suffering from fear because it is painted by eating herself. The paper that is taking her struggle, exposes its skin and sharing the artist’s pain. However, the thin paper cannot embody the soul plentiful nor real. This is the limit of all the paintings have. In fact, putting the world on the paper, representing the spirit or inner-space on the paper is an impossible task. On that sense all the history of image is rebellious try to play the part of god and dominate the time.
 
  If so, what can painting paint, if it is still necessary, what on earth are they? The one who has this question is Myungsook Kim. Her painting appears alone in the despair and its original trait. On this point her painting makes different from other ‘paintings’. Her painting acquires freedom not belonging to anywhere by missing the dichotomy composition of plan and abstraction. A light in the painting which is deep, dark and damp made by all the sap in her body, sunshine which breaks and spawns, lights that glimmer on the water spreads out to somewhere by penetrating the world. The painting that doesn’t exist in the painting. She is eager to show the world outside of the painting by light.
 
  However, how vain and vulnerable it is to pour out all the saps into a paper fighting against the world, not even a little yield is accepted, this self-therapy and autistic behavior that bind oneself. This behavior would be the isolation in a sense that she is approaching to the peak of her spirit, cranking down herself by keen sensitivity and concentration. However, if life is not satisfied by other things but life itself, dreaming of the shore by beating her own body, this foolhardy behavior should be her destiny. 

Young-taek Park

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1995

  Modern arts may have reached an end to its theoretical discussion over the historic status of paintings as an arena ruled by craftsmanship.
  Standing at this end, Kim firmly adheres to the mastery of painting, and to the distinguishing qualities of arts, such as integrity, singularity, and spirituality, which have underlies the tradition of painting. Her perseverance and indifference reminisce the struggles, heroic yet painful, to revive a long-dead myth of a glorious past. And it is of no surprise that such attitude gains a renewed attention, especially in the contrasting face of modern arts, which, with rampant madness, gamble over the ‘aesthetics of novelty’ for those privileged to play such a game. Kim reflects upon nature, not as an object of sightseeing but rather as a mirror of and a channel to one’s inner life. In doing so, Kim’s paintings restore the romantic attitude towards modernity, which extends to the contemporary age.

  While the overall tone of darkness evokes tension, the lights permeating therein elicit reverence, similar to that of a religion, as well as fortify the mystic nuance. The ascetic abstinence embedded in Kim’s paintings almost transcends the linguistic effect of meanings. We are brought to a mythical scene in which the incompleteness of human beings stand in front of the absolute being. This impression is maximized by the huge size of Kim’s paintings, filling the walls of an exhibition hall, where one cannot help but finding oneself facing in a forest or the absolute force running underneath itin front of the ruler that summoned Kim to her works.

  Kim’s paintings are closed to the outside, as they are deeply immersed in the unique mode of the artist’s experience. Yet the openness of the unfathomable depth is conveyed through the effect of the darkness and light in the paintings. But again, such openness is a rather unapproachable one, to anyone without the direct experience of the artist.
In this way, we may come to appreciate, either consciously or not, the artist’s desire to remain aloof from material culture. Ironically however, Kim devotes painstaking handcraft to her paintings, as though to not let the most delicate and fragile bits of nature from perishing. Here, her solid skill in drawing are treasured and demonstrated in its fullness. The drawings reveal traces of the artist’s efforts to externalize her perception of objects. And these efforts appear to be those of a heroine who tries to grasp ever-escaping objects.

  This may seem an impossible adventure. Although the surfaces of Kim’s paintings are filled with craftsmanship and materiality, what her paintings try to indicate is often too indifferent to its surfaces. Through such optical illusion of depth, the artist attempts to teleport to her black hole-like inner-scape. Is she hoping to keep the little remaining lives of those lost during the relentless race of the ‘aesthetics of novelty’? The conditions of contemporary culture, which confronts a reality that is even more intimidating than the declaration of an end to paintings itself, have now reached the peak of their threats to the existence of paintings. ‘Culture’ has become a key theoretical concept while ‘images’ overflow in everyday life. Recent exhibitions such as the latest Gwangju Biennale already point to a new movement of blending arts with heterogenous concepts such as ‘virtual reality,’ ‘computopia,’ ‘interactive,’ ‘communication.’ It awaits for Kim as a tough task to respond to the changing atmosphere of modern arts, even though she has sidestepped this game of the aesthetics of novelty. The artist’s struggle may not easily end this time as before. And it will constrain her even more as she insists on keeping her world closed - although the world may be a transcendental one as this one.

Soo-ki Kim

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1994

  The surface of Myungsook Kim is an abyss that cannot measure the depth. The paper surface, its skin is stretched remote and deep place like at end of the world surrounded by darkness and light. Like a womb of the world, damp and infinite place that catches our sight, overwhelms the observer’s sight with shock and shudder. The lights split and break sharply like an explosive that makes hole in the darkness and abyss. Observers approach another side of consciousness by the light. The painting is captivated by the dilemma or irony, that the painting shows the things of beyond consciousness by materialization.

  However, Myungsook Kim drives out the observer’s sight and heart toward the world beyond consciousness mediated by that painting. Her painting withdraws observers to another world which is different from this world. Her attitude toward painting associates with water birds that cross the ocean by whipping themselves. The desperate scar reveals through surface by her overwork.


  The place where she wants to reach is where nobody can reach, the deepest place out of all. She desires depth. That depth is the place where you do everything you can. But with a human body it is impossible to reach that bottom and you cannot even measure it. Dark and deep forest, the current of water and sunshine of abyss, the obsessed face of human is her material that doesn’t change. She engraves on the surface of paper ‘the world of depth’ which is impossible to express with a painting. It is an impossible desire. So the artist tries hard to bump with all the energy she has. It is miserable to watch the surface that is rubbed with body and sense because it is full of blood, scar, solitude and sharp nerves. And it is impressive. A line rests on the paper becoming her own body and sensitivity.


  Thousands of lines are impossible to represent, but always recurs, bother oneself and the world that doesn't leave even one second, it is drawn to express the spirits. Each lines make all the lines alive by attacking the surface. By this unrealistic lines we meet our artist’s raw spirit. One light in the deep, dark and damp picture by all the energy was put, sunshine that breaks and harvest, light that is shining on the water approaches toward somewhere by winning the world. The world that is not existing, the world beyond the painting. Myungsook Kim wants to show us the world by light. It feels like a miracle that even on this age this type of painting exists. 

Young-taek Park

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1991

  Paintings of Myungsook Kim seem like they are full of pantheistic and pan-esthetic claims. Pan-esthetic means accepting rules of all the things in the nature and universe. It also means sorting out the aesthetic point and makes it general and abstract. Myungsook Kim mostly paints nature and human (which is representation of nature) and in her painting there are full of claims that human is a part of nature, but at the same time she wants to transcend it.

  The forest of Myungsook Kim is full on canvas. The base of tree trunk is strong and the details are rich and delicate so it beautifully shines.
  This forest is sacred. In the forest there are spirits of trees and they are breathing and responding one another. In this forest, sound, color and smells are corresponding ceaselessly. Trees are pillars of temple that support this sacred forest. And they are eager to stretch toward supernaturalness. In other words, they want to achieve their universal way of existence as pan-esthetic supernaturalness.
  The surface is limited to monotone in order to avoid rhetoric and decoration. This gives weight to the surface and makes it neat and solemn.
 
  To raise this mood, the painter uses light effect. In her surface she often uses focus light which is a spotlight. This is a strength that unifies the painting into one. And also this light makes us concentrate on small things on the paper.
The rest is treated as deep and dark monotone. So the parts that gets light floats mysteriously with tension.
Under this type of light numerous lights are used to make a figure and the nature which is an artist’s material. In other words, thousands of lines make form and it splits and gathers like sunlight that reflects.
  This light mingles with the light effect and becoming important crude element of Myungsook Kim’s painting. The form made by thousands of lights and scratches emphasize each person’s sensitivity rather than the carved modeling. So her painting belongs in the category of drawing more than painting.

  The volcano looks like it is resting quietly. However, sometimes it has the immense potential that is very destructive and explosive. The crater seems like it has a treasure house which can draw our secret language: it is a place where we can hide. In other words, this is a treasure house of imagination and hope of potential power.
  This crater is a single image and it also uses spotlight. However it is not showing the object with conventional ways. It shines the background so that the object reveals itself dark and heavily. So on the whole surface looks dark and as you approach toward the back of the crater, the mysterious lines come alive, which is called the book of chronicles perspective. This type of effect shows in figures as well. The figures look like it is from a snap picture that is taken in one second.
  The artist awakes this nervous and secretive language from the power of each being. And this is the world of Myungsook Kim’s painting world, her personality and expressive realm. 

Bang-hun Sin

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