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Min Kim

Installation View of ‘Fractal’ at BHAK

“A straight line, for instance, and a circle, and the figures produced from them by turning lathes, both surfaces and solids and those formed with rulers and angles. For these I hold to be not relatively beautiful, as other things are, but always essentially beautiful in themselves and to have pleasures peculiar to themselves.” This quote from Plato’s ‘Philebus,’ is considered the earliest definition of abstract art.

This principle is about departing from the world of tangible objects or extracting the essence beyond their forms, a fundamental concept in abstract painting. The paintings of Min Kim in the exhibition “Fractal” reflect this principle. Her works don’t aim to reproduce the appearance of any particular object traditionally associated with visual arts. Min Kim fills the exhibition space with paintings solely composed of elements fundamental to any image: lines and planes.

In this departure from the realm of representation, the artwork signifies the necessity to approach the non-material dimension. The non-material subject, borrowing Min Kim’s words, refers to the “unseen unknown.” This unknown territory directly points to the concept of “creativity.” The artist, as stated earlier, perceives and imagines the phenomenon of creation, where something previously nonexistent is brought into being for the first time, through the medium of painting. The focus here is not on reproducing and imitating any object, but rather exploring the theme through the formation of shapes originating from minimal units like points, lines, and planes. In this exploration, straight lines and triangles play a crucial role in expressing the phenomenon of creation.

Min Kim, Triangular space, Oil on linen, 130 x 97 x 3cm, 2023

In Kim’s paintings, the triangle symbolizes the evolving shape of creation, progressing from a state of “nothingness” to a state of “existence”, showcasing the changing nature of creation depending on the perspective. This is illustrated through the principles of formation from which the triangle emerges. Kim establishes a straight line as the minimal unit of a certain “original form” and visualizes the birth of a triangle at the points where extending lines intersect in different directions. Thus, the triangle in Min Kim’s work can be seen as visualizing the flow of creation evolving from nothingness to existence.

It’s worth noting that in Kim’s work, triangles never appear in isolation; rather, two or more triangles are arranged in various forms. Large and small triangles face each other, overlap, or move apart. Their movements represent not only a fundamental vitality but also the infinite possibilities of change inherent in living organisms. This phenomenon is intensified through the deliberate incompleteness of the triangles. Min Kim does not draw all three lines composing the triangle; parts of the triangles are deliberately positioned to be cut off by the canvas frame. This staging creates ambiguity, leaving uncertainty about where the hypotenuse of the triangle begins and ends. It allows the audience to experience the infinite possibilities of the constantly partitioning and expanding triangles in various shapes and sizes within and beyond the canvas.

In this way, Kim’s paintings do not reveal a definitive vision based on the artist’s perspective. Instead, they encourage the audience to imagine and sense shapes beyond the presented forms, transforming the flatness of the painting into a new spacetime. This intention is further accentuated through the diagonal composition traversing the canvas. Following the axis of the diagonal lines crossing all directions within the rectangular canvas, viewers are guided through the dynamic energy transmitted by the movement of triangles, defying and adhering to gravity, rising and falling. This energy revitalizes the primitive force and perpetual vitality circulating in life.

Furthermore, the diagonal movement evokes complex emotions reminiscent of an imagined world of the unknown. As diagonal lines cross and collide, they simultaneously create a sense of discomfort and convey stability at intersections where they meet. Thus, the contradictory nature of triangular shapes, constantly opposing and reconciling within the canvas, reflects a process of repeated confrontation and harmony, progressing towards a stage of order from chaos, from ‘nothingness’ to ‘existence,’ and from darkness to light. This interpretation reveals Kim’s artistic journey exploring the unknown world.

The exploration of the unknown is an instinct of humanity. The creative act of an artist can be seen as an endeavor to venture into the last realm they can explore. Capturing the enduring and universal order and energy beyond the visible and physical world is the essence of art and an artist’s innate desire. The exhibition “Fractal” is a moment to acknowledge the intellectual and robust passion of an artist exploring the essence that goes beyond reality and, in turn, underlies reality.

19 Hannam-daero 40-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea
+82 2 544 8481