Lim, Tae-gyu (Philosophy of Art)
Before starting this writing, I would like to clarify that it is a statement replacing Kim, Hyung-jin’s artist note. This is because most of the content is from the essential thoughts of the artist that I found from the brief conversation between me and the artist.
Let me take your attention to the meaning of the artist’s composition system on the square canvas that variously combines and separates the blocks which remind me of the traditional seven-piece board game. We should be able to find the artist’s efforts and will to contain her wondering life or the philosophical logics that could seem too emotional or subjective. That is the reason why I understand the artist’s work as a visual language system like a net that talks about ‘narrations about beings’. In fact, it is clear that questions about ‘beings’ is no longer values as a notion or a metaphysical issue to be discussed. In today’s philosophy, ‘being’ is a realistic problem, is an everyday life, and the understanding point for the world that people face all the time. When looking at Kim, Hyung-jin’s artwork, a shape can be found that catches people’s scattered attentions. Some of the certain shapes from the artist’s canvas would be the ones who are around in our everyday lives or someone else. The human shaped compositions of the artist seem to be the artist, or they seem to contain the questions about the meaning of life of an unknown. Therefore, I would like to suggest adapting biological foundations to understand the artwork though it could be a bit abstract.
According to ‘Landscape and Heart’ by Kim, Woo-chang, people tend to find human face figures at wherever, psychologically speaking. Such tendency is to find someone in the world who is similar to oneself, or even if it is not exactly like the one, it is to find what is similar to the one or to find the figures that are familiar to the one. The behaviors of chameleons which color up themselves similar to the colors around them to protect them and of a number of creatures such as stick insects which get born in similar figures to their surroundings are related to the instinct of survival. Also, naming the natures according to the figures of humans or to the familiar animals, and the life style of East-Asians who connect their life issues with the nature, can be examples of the instincts for survivals.
If so, where did this psychological instinct come from? The issue here is to find psychological stability by finding figures that are similar to one; it is a type of survival strategy. The various fine art genres started from the ancient religious services which were to take the fearful nature activities as the same level as the people; it is a survival instinct. It brings out the important fact that the motivation of fine art started from recognizing the nature.
Furthermore, I could conclude that the foundation of such culture is based on the biological instincts.
What is the reason for all the living creatures on earth are mostly left-right symmetry or diagonal symmetry? Not only anatomy of humans and various animals, trees and plants also grow diagonally show the diagonal symmetry shape from the top and left-right symmetry from the side views. Such structures seem to contain the power against the gravity and as well as the flow that goes along with the gravity, or they seem to secretly have the genes of adjustments. Plus, in this secret irony, the law of balance exists. It is like human beings on earth who live lives of balancing with the world. Would not it be the reason why the Confucianism takes ‘balance’ as its core law, and Zhuangzi took the ‘absolute truth’ which places tao at the center of lives and of the world?
Though the familiarity of symmetry is not clear if it has any psychological proofs, but it seems that there is a belief of taking balance as the principle of living. However, discussing the cause and result is not very important here. What is important is that the psychological interpretations bases on the gene characters of biological ‘beings’, and what is clear is that the symmetry structure of lives has very close connections to the potential strategy of life-saving will.
This also allows the assumption in fine art that takes balance as an important element might have started from the ‘being’ instinct.
I can find that such biological logic is also contained in Kim, Hyung-jin’s artwork compositions. The inequilateral triangles’ wood pieces on the canvas, and though the inner angles of them are cut sometiems, when the three lines are elongated, the balance by making triangles is still there, and such breaks and combinations are repetitively expressed. The artist’s pattern sometimes seems to be enjoying its freedom by breaking the perfectness of the square canvas. That might be the reason why I sometimes find that the compositions seem to be under specific layouts, but sometimes they seem to be randomly displayed. However, it is clear that the artist’s canvas has the willing expression of keeping the balance of power. This probably comes from the shapes created by the pieces that catch audience’s attentions. Kim, Hyung-jin is either combining or scattering the figure of the unknown on the canvas by the repetitive breaks and combinations of the pieces.
What the artist is trying to communicate is either the presence of the existence or the artist’s interest in everyday life, and they are from the artist’s life experiences that include the nature. Such creative process is similar to the East Asian art tradition that transforms visual experiences into narrations; it is very familiar to us who have lived lives that are closely attached to the nature. There are some types of rules in the artwork for containing ontological thoughts. First, there is the special rule for discussions about ‘time’ which reflects the imperfectness of the finite beings. The annual rings that the artist drew in the triangles symbolize the steps of a life, and contain the unknowns’ lives. The scattered pieces that seem to be still but continually producing tension reflect the insecurity. Such creative process reminds of the Heidegger’s reasoning that considers time issue as the axis for exploring existences. Such attitude of creative process can be found also from the key words that the artist chose before, or in the middle or, after the process. ‘Praying’, ‘holding’, ‘gazing’, ‘pouring’, ‘working’, ‘nailing’, ‘writing’, etc., the continuously attached ‘ing’ should not be a coincidence. Probably, did not the artist try to show symbolically the continuously flowing time –not the segmented time– behind the finite existences?
The human characters shown in the concept of the continuing time stare at a target with softness, and stare at the movie in the camera filmed sometime in the past. Also, they pray, or eat a hamburger, or pour coffee, or concentrate on mobile, or dance elegantly. These can be everyday life activities of anyone, as well as reflecting the artist’s preference. On the other hand, there is the invisible tension and the structures of power balancing in the artwork as if telling how human lives are actually like. It seems to be visualizing human psychology or emotional changes.
But more than anything, I think that the artist’s goal is in the creative process of creating the ‘imperfect figures, or segmented figures’. As these artworks are more abstract than the other, I carefully assume how the artist’s work will be in the future. Like the keywords of the artwork, the whole canvas is segmented, and the partial shapes of the segmentations are left as imperfect figures. During this sincere process, has not the being been left as an imperfect being? This creative process is similar to the Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Missing Piece Meets the Big O’, the story of an imperfect circle with a missing piece that goes for a journey to find the piece; the process shows the endless desire of being perfect despite of the imperfect actual being. The artwork says that it is how everyone is like.
When viewing and understanding Kim, Hyung-jin’s artwork, I focus to the future potential of the artist more than anything. As the artist visualize the thoughts about existences, the artistic explorations will flourish more, and I expect that the artist would fully enjoy the freedom even more than now. Writing about an artwork after viewing an artwork is like translating and adding captions of a book. Like the quote of a scholar, ‘translation is treason’, I hope that this writing would not be treason.
– 2014 –