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Mind-Scape : from the nature

Eel-kwon KIM

Installation View of ‘Eel-kwon KIM, Mind-Scape :  from the nature’ at GALLERY SOHEON & SOHEON Contemporary

Kim has formally explored a thematic with a razor-sharp singularity yet evinces a high level of artistic accomplishment. His early works were anything but indistinguishable. Artistically incorporating vestiges of Mark Rothko’s prescient Color-Field to Robert Ryman’s monochromes, Kim’s early paintings consisted of rectangular canvases awash in two dominate colors which meet at a demarcated line that horizontally bisects the canvas; or by an area in which the two dominate hues bleed into each other. More recently, Kim expanded on this where the purity of his color fields was contaminated with offset colors thus giving his nebulous pictorial zones depth by way of chromatic palpability.

As much as these canvases can be read as embodiments of pure abstraction, the delineated line or passage between large areas of color cannot resist being perceived as a horizon. What one could conclude, then, is what Kim renders is a kind of dialectical painting that formally and conceptually oscillates dichotomies of pure abstraction and representation, figure and ground, presence and absence, and being and nothingness. As if these thematic points of departure were not revelatory of the complex artistic imaginary, the early works were also given titles referring to the day they were painted including June 20, 2003 and October 30, 2003, for example. The titles serve more than demarcations of time, however, for they not only encapsulate the arc of their creation but are also metaphorically embedded, to a lesser of greater degree, with the interiority of their author on the day of their manufacture.

_extracted from “Eel Kwon Kim: From the Line to the Infinite” By Raul Zamudio

김일권, Untitled, 116.8×80.3cm, Oil on canvas

Here I refer specifically to the paintings of the Korean artist Eel Kwon Kim.
To see these paintings, and to encapsulate their significance, is to go beyond the normative perception of how a landscape is seen or understand. Kims landscapes have a direct reference to abstract painting. operate as a hinge between the two — representation and abstraction — as a fulcrum, a balance beam, a way of seeing into the future. Series, entitled Calm Land, constitutes a kind of prophetic seismograph, a warning without deliberate calculation, a way of thinking and feeling in relation to the self.

Kim understands that viewing the landscape is an intrinsic metaphysical action, a way of coming to terms with the reality of nature, with the infinity of the horizon line, with the calmness of the self, the solitude, the infinite grandeur of spiritual being in a world torn apart by fear and greed.

김일권, untitled, 90.9×72.7cm, Oil on canvas

Kim’s paintings constitute a kind of seeing that envisions the future in relation to the past — that sees the Eastern traditions of landscape painting as having a succinct calmness, a meaning without equivocation, a feeling of intrepid comprehension and contemplation. Here one may discover a universe of human emotion and an atmosphere of galaxies that reign over our feeling as we move through time and space. (omit)

But there is no prediction in the direction these landscapes will take. In Calm Land (01.05.03) the sensation of ocean waves breaks through the night. The viewer is arbitrarily standing at the seaside watching this extravagant, though sublime phenomenon in nature. horizon is disturbed. The brushstroke in its simple, recondite, and calligraphic manner interrupts the typical stillness.
We are poised in front of the sea — yet still, not as a pure representation, but as a hint of something universal in nature. The effect is ultimately one of pulling together the representational and abstract elements in painting — both belonging to nature — in tune with one another. Eel Kwon Kim is tuning the perceivers eye to the sensation of the thing perceived, the role of nature as an objective variant, a crustacean form, a primeval event that takes us homeward into the self, into the vacant regions of the soul, where the transformation from dark to light emerges and we become whole again.

_extracted from “Eel kwon Kim: The New Landscape”, essay by Robert C. Morgan*
*Robert C. Morgan is a writer, international art critic, curator, poet, lecturer, and artist.

김일권, untitled, 45.5×53cm, Oil on canvas

The sublime is that quality in art Robert Rosenblum associated with shapelessness awesomeness and the mysterious aspects of a Romantic landscape, Kim’s landscapes are every bit mysterious, suggestive, and even ecstatic in their sublime suggestion of possibilities. His softly nuanced paintings are economical in their means yet speak volumes in their complexity. This layering and its super-inscription or super-imposition is referred to as the palimpsest effect. As signs if a linguistic model, Kim’s landscapes are embedded with multi-layered symbolism that functions in terms of repetition and, their signifieds become inconstant shifting and exchanging places with their signifiers. Through repetition Kim’s painting as sign constantly recreates its referent thereby multiplying its meaning.

김일권, untitled, 80.3×65.1cm, Oil on canvas

His works can be read as metaphorical abstract landscapes with a tripartite division of foreground, horizon/middle ground, and background. Or, they can be seen as studies into sensation and color wherein the media assume primacy. An alternative reading would assert a spiritual element in Kim’s landscapes due to their devotional, evocative qualities. Kim’s work should not simply be associated with abstract expressionism or minimalism as critics have done in the past, but it should also be seen in light of its metaphorical and symbolic meaning, the most compelling aspect of Kim’s painting is that this complex tapestry of veiled metaphoric significance and visual acuity captivate and resonate with his viewer.

_extracted from: “The Palimpsest and sublime in Eel Kwon Kim’s Landscapes”
_Thalia Vrachopoulos

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