Review of Arts: Kim,Bong-Joon’s Arts Exhibition

Arts World of Kim Bong-Joon
(Jongduck Choi, Sangji Univ.)

1. Listening to his arts

Kim’s paintings and sculptures can’t be defined in one genre. Kim devoted himself to poster arts xylographs tinted with strong propaganda and will of struggle against Korean military dictatorship in 80s, Soon he moved to glide across the oil painting and his very own genre of wash-drawing and terra cotta. By ‘his own’, this means Kim’s unique way of making clay arts. Kim does not ‘sculpture’ out of one lump of materials. He piles up the noodle shaped clay into a model, a way of making Korean jar, Hang-a-ri. So the completed piece is void inside, just like a jar.

Kim’s art is a world with multi-national and cross-cultural inspirations. The general theme of his art can be stated in one word, singreum(fertile+generous). Kim’s life itself is endowed with theme of his art. He literally lived art. He danced and practiced music of Korean traditions when he was in the twenties. His arts became aesthetical fertility through experiences like that. When he was in his thirties, he lived as a member of The Farmers and Laborers group who held the pain of Korea’s extremely rapid growth. In the same way, his arts has evolved to the imagination of substantial generosity through his labor movements. He sought to build a good community derived from a humane origin through his art. Kim found this origin in myth.

Kim, Bong-Joon’s aesthetical Basics

Kim Bong-Joon paints history. The essence of his art lies in his expression of human lives. The archetype of life which Kim seeks for is in myths. This myths belong not only to the ancients but also to the laborers, farmers and salariats of today’s ordinary life. And he ia a painter with great narrative power. His arts are constructed by the scenes with narrative varieties which embraced more stories than novels. His arts of myth was created by this narrative type

His aspiration for this myth among people was intense in his art but the mainstream of Korean art society at first did not spot him. Kim himself states that he is the outsider. He says, “My life as an outsider is like a fate, but I always wanted to be an creative outsider.” Kim sometimes finds this creativity among Shamanism of East Asia. He says a new way of peace movement can be made from East Asian archetype of shamans and their rituals. Ideas of cultural pluralism, respect for life, and spiritual equality derived from this archetype run through his art. The aesthetical soul of singreum carved in Kim’s art manifests the freedom from the masculinity, materialism and despotism.

2. Listened by You

His work is a folk art bridging the tradition and the present. In his xylograph, siseohwa(paining with poetry and calligraphy). and terra cotta runs an unity with Japanese folk art. East Asian universality lies in his work.” (Furukawa Mika, Japanese fine arts critic)

An aesthetic of hope found in Sin-myung(East Asian Cheerfulness of spiritual rising). This Sin-myung and vitality is the key of his art.” (Jung Hyun-Sang, Hankyoreh reporter, oct, 2011)

Kim’s artistic objects have been from students and laborers of 80s and democratization movements to farmers and folk lives. However his aspiration for expressing humans has been permanent.” (Asahi news, nov. 2011, exhibition report from gallery ‘Maki’)

Kim constructs a model of harmony between culture and religion formed into a peaceful reform of cultures and religion along the silk-road. The civilization of peace is emerging in Asia. It is based on the mutual respect, which is an attitude of finding the likeness rather than insisting one’s absolute values.” (Volker Kuster, Professor of Kampen Theological Univ. 『Visual Arts and Religion』)

3. Listen his works up

xylograph, 1982
The jobless who can’t even be the part-timers. The laborer at the edge is the symbol of Korean industrializations’s shadow. The work was a poster for Kim’s exhibition in Germany in 1987. 

mural, 2004
Koreans in the Maritime Province were deported to Siberia in 1937 and it was the most tragic incident in Korean Diaspora. 300 thousands of Koreans who lived in the Maritime were deserted in Siberia under the dictatorship of Stalin. Kim directed a stage work ‘Maritime Welcome’ in 2004. He painted Koreans in a cargo train while the production of the stage work.

   oil painting no.15. 2012
A divine power is found in the forest. Joseph Campbell states that mythos is a divine power, Kim manifests in his art that the divine power is the singreum. When waling in the forest, the divine power rises instantly and spontaneously.

oil painting no.100. 2012
Terra myth of Kangwondo province : An ox on the top of the mountain, survived from the flood, is an archetype of life. Flood mythologies are ubiquitous in all over the world, Korea’s very own is depicted in the painting.

silkscreen colored xylograph, 1995
Kim’s journey to West Silk Road was an event of his art life. Asia was common in the mode of paintings. This commoness found in Bedouins inspired Kim as a divinity of nomads.

terra cotta, 2000
Mankind saw the earth as the mother and the father. Our fate of being born from, feeding on, and returning to the earth is expressed in our myth of ‘mother earth’. Peace can be found in the civilization of goddesses.

work no.120
Peace is not found in the increase of arms but in the return to the Goddess Civilization. When we end the dogma of masculist religions, can we meet the great civilization of goddess in the ancient times. The ancient traces of goddesses inspired Kim in his journey to West Silk Road in 1995.


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