Yeong Gill Kim: Paintings, 1998 - 2007

December 19, 2007 - January 18, 2008

Gallery Korea of the Korean Cultural Service NY
Opening Reception: December 19, 2007 at 6 - 8pm

Gallery Korea of the Korean Cultural Service NY is pleased to present the exhibition Yeong Gill Kim: Paintings, 1998-2007 from December 19th, 2007 through January 18th, 2008. Yeong Gill Kim is a New York based painter who left Korea in 1986, and Kim’s mid career survey exhibition covers the body of his works from past ten years. The show provides a critical opportunity to review the path Kim has chosen to take. More than twenty paintings in large and medium to small scales in monotone canvases are on view. 

Two decades of Kim’s body of works in the United States could be summarized in two parts: During Kim’s first 10 years in the U.S., his art works were dominated by figurative mixed media works; while the last ten years, Kim’s focus was mainly on canvas paintings. Until early 90s, Kim’s paintings were dominated by figurative images often cut outs from his own drawings or from mass produced printed materials. From mid 90s, he deserted using collage technique, turned away from a clear contrast of background and foreground, image and ground, and reached a new (or next) stage of expression. 

Inspired by the techniques and aesthetics of Eastern ink painting traditions, and combining drawing lines and painting figures, Kim tried to perform seemingly incompatible task: To realize one of the essential natures of ink painting, spontaneity and chance effect, with the acrylic and oil media. Then, the artist broke the closed forms of the figures and opened the confinement of shapes, making the imagery almost like handwritten script. In a series of Kim’s untitled acrylic canvases from the mid 90s, background space is difficult to be discernable from the foreground figure. By applying brushstrokes in a speedy and linear execution, Kim produced the overall compositions where both human bodies and natural elements mingle. 

The theme of Kim’s paintings was retrieved from his early years’ hometown scenery. Born in Gyeongju, the capital city of ancient Buddhist kingdom Silla, Kim was captured by the legacy of Silla Dynasty’s artifacts in harmony with nature. As if to say the civilization is to reflect the circulation of nature and cosmic order, Kim’s paintings deliver a single field of nature and people. 

As of late, Kim painted more condensed imagery in his monotone compositions. Glossy surfaces of pink, blue, and grey are reminiscent of Korean porcelain while minimal touches of lines and dots are suggestive of any possible plants. Sometimes the butterflies flutter amid the imaginable orchids, bamboo shoots or forests. Whether the butterflies are seen as the index of mobility in space or the idea of uncertainty of being, as in the Butterfly Dream by Chuang Tzu; butterflies are surely the theme of transformation Kim tries to convey. There is no definite distinction of opposite beings. Chaos becomes order and the emptiness in the surface is not incompleteness but rather a filled vastness.

Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying around and enjoying himself. He did not know that he was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he woke up, and there was definitely Chuang Tzu again. He, however, did not know whether it was Chuang Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly, or the butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu. 
– the Butterfly Dream of Chuang Tzu – 

The opening reception is held from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007. Gallery hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm from Monday through Friday, and closed on Christmas Day on the 25th and New Year on January 1st, 2008. For more information, contact Yu Jin Hwang, curator of Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service NY at 212-759-9550 or

Miro Yoon