Myong Hi Kim, Tchah-Sup Kim, Choong Sup Lim, Il Lee
Water flows from the bottom of a mountain to its peaks inside the sea. Birds spurred with fish scales fly deep, deep into the mountain. A deep place becomes high, a high place becomes low.
– Hye-Sun Kim (b.1955) from her poem Inside My Eyes.
Art Projects International (API) is pleased to present The Mountain, an exhibition of four Korean artists: Myong Hi Kim; Tchah-Sup Kim; Choong Sup Lim; and Il Lee. Belonging to the pioneering generation of New York-educated Korean artists, each of these artists, each widely acknowledged, is well established in the pursuit of their art–whether living in New York City or a remote region in Korea.
From the myth of the mountain founding of Korea by Dangun to the reality of Korea’s rugged landscape, any Korean artist would be hard pressed to have wrung “mountain” from their psyche. And, here, in viewing the artwork of The Mountain it is clear that the meaning and purpose of “mountain” shifts, as in Hye-Sun Kim’s poem, and it may exist as subject, metaphor or even talisman.
Myong Hi Kim’s paintings on chalkboards are symbolist landscapes and portraits. The situation of the individual within the rugged terrain of their life comes home softly as her light touch in rendering form contrasts with the circumstance of lives as varied as the immigrant child and the displaced citizen. A simple scene of a woman ironing takes on layers of meaning: the viewer finds that a mirror doubles as a map of the world; a strategically placed framed painting of a mountain appears within the painting; antique vases contrast with domestic, electric appliances.
In his early signature works Tchah-Sup Kim brings the viewer to the bed of a dry mountain stream with his depictions of stones shaped by water. His renderings of their similarities and the subtle differences of their multitudes offer the viewer a chance to investigate the rigor of Kim’s meditations.
Choong Sup Lim’s constructions are deceptively direct. A simple form is depicted, yet the more one views this constructed form the more multifaceted it reveals itself to be in shape and surface. The basic shape may be a marvelous imagining or perhaps a grain of rice blown-up to staggering proportions. “Mountain Air” is a grey carpet wall piece–it is a counterintuitive gesture through which Lim has somehow crafted the elevated and ethereal out of the weighty and earth bound. The fantastic is realized.
Il Lee’s work taps into the viewer’s sense of the uncanny–of monolithic being formed from the barely discernable. In Lee’s work, the building blocks of his forms are lines of ballpoint pen. The forms can read as representations of the immutable rock of mountains and simultaneously as the lightness itself of mythical floating forms.
Also included in The Mountain is a 1965 painting by Sang Oak Park (1915-1968). Occupying very little physical surface of the painting, yet somehow dominating the scene, is a mountain visible through the foreground trees. Even with the avant-garde tendencies of artists that followed Park and the distances from Korea that these artists traveled, the painting is an apt symbol of how “mountain” and the history of the Korean artists’ relationship to “mountain” may be at once obscured and looming up in the near distance.
In the end, the place the artists of The Mountain are bringing us is the same place of contemplation artists have been bringing us for thousands of years. We need to look no further than the words of the poet and famous painter of mountains Wang Wei (AD 701-761) in his poem Bound Home to Mount Song: “…Far away, beside Mount Song, I shall close my door and be at peace.”
About the artists:
Myong Hi Kim was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1949. She currently lives and works in an abandoned schoolhouse in Naep’yong-ni, a tiny mountain village in Kangwon Province, Korea. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea (2003); Another History of Art: Representation of Feminity, Ewha Womens University Museum, Seoul, Korea (2002); and a solo exhibition at AD & A Gallery, Osaka, Japan (2001). Selected public collections: National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea; National Assembly, Korea; and Whanki Museum, Seoul, Korea.
Tchah-Sup Kim was born in Yamaguchi, Japan, in 1940. He lives and works in Korea and New York. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Chosun Daily Newspaper Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2003); a retrospective at Marronnier Art Center, Korean Culture & Art Foundation, Seoul, Korea (2002); and A Decade of Transition and Dynamics, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea (2001). Selected public collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA; and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea.
Choong Sup Lim was born in Jinch’on, Korea, in 1941. He lives and works in New York. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Kukje Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2006); Artists to Artists, Ace Gallery, New York (2002); and a solo exhibition at The Samsung Museum of Modern Art Rodin Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2000). Selected public collections: Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Hirshorn Museum: Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea.
Il Lee was born in Seoul, Korea in 1952, He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Art Projects International, New York (2006); a solo exhibition at Galerie Gana-Beaugourg, Paris, France (2005); and Open House, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY (2004). In 2007, the San Jose Museum of Art will present Il Lee’s solo exhibition spanning three decades of his ballpoint pen work. Selected public collections: San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea; and Total Museum, Seoul, Korea
© Art Projects International