KIM Hyunsik: Profundity
Kim Hyunsik (金玄植, 1965-) has captured time between the layers of his painting. Capturing it entails him covering the horizontal canvas in resin and leaving it to dry. He etches the surface of the set resin using the tip of blades and awls. Then he applies paint over the surface. As this process is iterated, the space beyond the surface begins to expand and unfold into the profound. Profundity (玄) is an approximation of the mysterious providence in this universe. As the name that may be named is the manifestation of what cannot be named or spoken; the name is merely the observation and falls short of its perfection. It is profound, mysterious, abstruse, and arcane. It is impenetrably deep and formless; its unbroken continuity is named excellence. Formless and void to the tangible world, it can only be intuited. Such is the realm of hyun (玄), the profound, an approximation dating back to the period of Spring and Autumn (771-403 BC) and Eastern Jin (317-420 AD). Kim Hyunsik is an artist who has had modernist paintings heavier on his mind than most. Modernist paintings of the West were born against classical works as recreations of landscapes and figures. In contrast, the East Asian tradition was less concerned with recreating what was obvious to the eye. Rather, it sought a state of completeness, of perfect harmony between the object and the mind’s eye. This reconciliation of the mind and what is seen (觀物會神) is the spirit in which Kim Hyunsik encounters the world. His interpretation of modernity understands that all existing things are vessels of profound meaning. As such, Kim’s works exist in a universe of unbroken space and time. Beyond the surface of brilliant colors, there is boundless immersion. And just as suddenly the vertical lines rush forth like a starfield parallax; a realm yet to be explored by painting. Beyond the painting is Kim Hyunsik’s tireless pursuit of the spirit living in Korea’s classics, contending with modernist philosophies for a reinterpretation; a broader truth. Now the spirit lives on, not only in the East but in the exhibition halls and spaces of the West, eagerly awaiting a dialogue with those whose eyes will see and ears that will listen.
Excerpt from "Profundity (玄)" | LEE Jinmyung · Art Criticism, Aesthetics, Oriental Studies