Art Projects International

Yeong Gill Kim: Drawings and Paintings

Yeong Gill Kim, Untitled #D1, 1998 acrylic, pencil on paper, 29 x 23 inches

Art Projects International (API) is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings by Yeong Gill Kim. These works will be presented from May 7 to 30 at the API gallery, located at 429 Greenwich Street in TriBeCa. As well, a related exhibition will be held in Seoul at the POSCO Art Museum from June 24 to July 23.

Yeong Gill Kim is an artist whose drawings are equal in power to his paintings. He understands scale, and this is one of the reasons both his drawings on paper and his much larger paintings on canvas are successful. As even a tyro knows, an artist cannot simply enlarge or decrease the size of a great artwork to create an equally successful work of another size. Consideration must be given to how a particular mark or even medium looks on a surface of one size versus how it looks on a larger or smaller surface (a pencil mark on a small piece of paper versus that same mark on an eight foot canvas), to how an image looks at one size versus another (the image of a human figure at three inches high versus life size), and to how, among other considerations, the unmarked spaces in a work look different, despite proportions remaining the same, as the work gets larger or smaller.

Mr. Kim navigates problems of scale with his refined eye for the appropriate mark, gesture, material, or image and with his complete understanding of the diverse media he uses. His drawings may be pencil or charcoal on cotton bond paper, or ink on rice paper; some are done with combinations of other materials including paint and wax. Mr. Kim’s paintings are usually acrylic paint on raw canvas–the paintings are completed unstretched so that they may be crumpled while wet. And it is through his masterful manipulation of these media that he can make what, by measurement, is small have a large forceful presence and conversely make what is large appear delicate and balanced.

In the drawing “Untitled #D11” from 1993 a thin wash of grey paint is put down onto white paper, before this layer of paint dries it is lightly scratched and scuffed. Drawn over this surface in dark, thick, pencil line is a populated, perspectiveless landscape comprising numerous figures in groups, couples, or alone– thatches of roughly parallel lines are drawn in some areas of the drawing and give the vague impression of the figures resting on a grassy knoll or perhaps a sand dune. As a last step, the entire work is covered with wax. Even with one edge of the drawing retaining torn perforations which belie the work’s sketchbook origins, this drawing has a forceful and timeless presence–it is a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

As do the light, nearly imperceptible from a distance, scratches (as the ones described above) surreptitiously add depth and character to Mr. Kim’s drawings, the effects Mr. Kim achieves through wrinkling his wet and freshly painted canvases defy simple explanation. In description this wrinkling of the canvas to create subtle and intricate plays of line and pattern may sound like an easy trick or convenient starting point for Mr. Kim’s paintings. In reality , when confronted with the actual paintings, one can see that Yeong Gill Kim’s sophisticated understanding of what is appropriate remains intact. And though the scene of figures in a landscape may be familiar from the drawings, all the elements of their construction have been reconsidered. The rapid and varied strokes creating figures, an odd heavy stroke here and there, a smudged section, an unexpected bit of white mottling where a grey wash did not adhere to raw canvas, all these effects too, like the completely different effects of the drawings do, add up to a sophisticated whole. In fact other than some of Mr. Kim s works being small and on paper and others being larger and on canvas it is difficult to determine what exactly makes one set of work drawings and another paintings–what is clear is that, whether he is making drawings or paintings, Yeong Gill Kim makes successful works of art, and each warrants its own investigation.

© Art Projects International