Art Projects International

“Myong Hi Kim: Portraits” featured in The Korea Times

“Myong Hi Kim: Portraits” featured in The Korea Times, the most influential and oldest English-language daily in South Korea.

April 6, 2020

Kim Myong-hi’s chalkboard paintings capture sense of displacement

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Artist Kim Myong-hi lives a modern nomadic life, but in an extreme way. She divides her time between an abandoned school-turned-house in the remote countryside in Gangwon Province and fancy loft in SoHo, New York.

Such an experience has led her to explore contemporary themes of territorial division, rural exodus, migration and displacement in her signature oil pastels on chalkboard. “Myong Hi Kim: Portraits,” an exhibition at Art Projects International in New York, revisits her oeuvre centering on figure paintings.

“I am showing earlier works this time. Figure was my major subject when I started to work on chalkboards from 1993. The protagonist in the story I tell in my paintings are myself. Imagining myself as a girl who missed a school excursion or wondering what the future will bring (“The Girl”) or fashioning as a spiritual being (“Dongja with Peach”). And the women ironing and serving tea is an actual self-portrait,” Kim said at an e-mail interview with The Korea Times.

Dislocation has been the theme of her works continuously and, for the artist, dislocation can mean physical separation, but it can also mean the loss of self.

“They may appear as realistic portraits, but the vision that I present is that of apparition rather than appearance. Anyone who has witnessed the metamorphosis of an everyday object into a metaphysical entity on the canvas cannot but be spellbound by its magic. What I am working on is the interspace where reality is renegotiated and new consciousness is embodied.”

“I keep record of people I meet for future reference and take time to go through the process of writing an epic poem for each of my works, gaining experience, drawing on my imagination, setting up characters and their narratives and choosing a mode of expression. After this process I am able to execute them visually,” the artist said.

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