Edgewalker by Myoung-Jin Kim:
Depictive Narration or Theatrical Description
Yoo, Jin-Sang (Art critic)
‘Edgewalker’ is the title of Myung-Jin Kim’s series of paintings. ‘Cutting edge’ means ‘best and brightest’, but Kim’s ‘edgewalker’ may be describing the status of the artist himself walking in the dire of extremity, as for the early yBm artists it meant ‘Generation on the edge of a cliff’. At the same time, it also seems to mean his point of views of ‘observation while walking on the edge’ in pictorial narration. As if, he is gazing at the riot inside as he is walking on the boundary, because his point of view of looking at the pictorial scenery in his paintings is the edge of the space. The artist is walking on the edge of a space in which many life dramas are going on, just like Dante walking along the ‘Inferno’ guided by Virgil.
Myung-Jin Kim I met is a man of very few words. For him, outside may just be a stage where things get more complicated, and sometimes interesting things or people appear. To be captured by his eyes when he observes in distance is like going into the mouth of a gigantic whale, it costs a variation of a space. At the moment it is captured by the artist, objects are sucked into an unexpected space. There are scenes of dark desert or a cave with raging wild storm and air current spread out, though it’s empty. At times, huge waves are lurking in and out like an ocean, and at other times, objects randomly shoot up to the air. There is a sound of scream and laughter, and roar of objects bumping into each other resonating in this stupendous scene. In the scene, people, the artist encountered in his life, are continuously reenacting the memory of the artist they carved into him, being transformed into comical and strange actors spelled by their inevitable destiny or fragment of cartoon characters. These allegorical combinations are scattered like debris from explosion in the chaotic space to construct a space of fragmental narration, not the perspective space seen in the paintings of H. Bosche or Brügel.
The act of painting is to coat a canvas with paints. To coat a canvas, first you have to be aware of the canvas. Some artists cover the space and paint a new phantom of space on top of it, and some show the original canvas to emphasize the mixed use of material of the canvas and the paints. This method is known as ‘unfinished’, ‘descriptive attitude’, or ‘similar to the drawing’, but there is more fundamental atmospherics here. This atmospherics has been handled as focal value through out the consistent genealogy of oil painting from A. Gorky to C. Twombly with abstract expressionists along the way. It is the physical and transcendental combined weaves fabricated by the light emitting from the white color of the canvas and paints smeared on the canvas with a brush. In this case, the artist smears paints by controlling the light from the white background, rather than covering the canvas with paints. It is the same in Kim’s case; his canvas is full of bright background. In his canvas, there is energy from the brush and paints fighting with the canvas, and sliding and scattered in the canvas, as if life scenes that is close to a play, and shouting and noise of streets in the city are bustling in the broad day light.
The artist himself appears often in this implied space. In the movie ‘Being John Malkovich’, John Malkovich goes into his brain and views the world, and sees the world through his own eyes; all other people are John himself. In the paintings of Kim’s, the artist appears floating with others through the eyes of the artist. This overlapping point of view leads the audience to think the whole scene may be a kind of his self-portrait. Inside of whale’s stomach, chaotic purgatory, an ocean with blurred horizon, and a scene of mid-day full with swirling debris of countless memories are forms of present transformed by overlapped point of views of the artist. His mother, a woman he passed by, a wizard and an alien, personified animals, such as dog and cat, hidden reality, and secret codes are all subjects repeatedly appear in Kim’s paintings. They are all taking actions to order certain incidents, which actually happened in his memories.
The world is consisted of non-linear mixture of materials of macroscopic sceneries and microscopic scenes, not by series of two-dimensional happenings. Sometimes, a scene from the past could pop up in the present scene, and present meanings could exude from inside again. Suddenly there is laughter, and it could be taken over by massive anxiety one moment later. It reminds me of a centrifuge. A machine that rotates extremely fast along the edge separates individual particles from the object inside. To imagine how fast the artist is rotating at the edge of the scene would be one of the joys of admiring the painting. Memories, shapes, and happenings are floating roughly along with the whirlpool of ether that fills the world, by overlapping with the spots of color and transparent contour. The artist is continuously operating his inner ‘machine’, to ‘analyze’ his tangled memories, and uses his secret codes to ‘interpret’ them looking at the schismatic world. This operation of extremely personal and universal would be the meaning of Kim’s paintings.
I am curious how Kim’s paintings will produce another pictorial ‘interpretation’ in this segregating and violent world. I am expecting what kind of stage his feverish excitement will show us with his sensible and sensual body becoming one with his point of view. I expect: the master narratives I haven’t known, microscopic scenes happening in the nooks and cranny of the universe, space-time leap of things that cannot be connected, erotic envy and everyday encounters boggle the views of the audience like the particles sprouting from the bottom by striking into each other. And, I wish they discern that this is all happening by the paints that are being smeared on top of them: how the most ordinary can make the world of the most extraordinary.
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