July 25 - September 12, 2020
Helen J. Gallery is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition MINKU KIM: S.E.P from July 25, 2020, through September 4, 2020 at its newly opened gallery space in Los Angeles. It is Minku Kim's first solo show in Los Angeles. In 2016, the Brooklyn-based Korean artist started examining the formal elements of painting, rethinking Modernism in the contemporary context. In this exhibition, his recent Straight Edge Paintings (S.E.P) series pleasantly demonstrates how he has been developing his visual language of "an immaculate control and atmospheric sensoria."
Kim's paintings appear effortless, but they embody the durational activity of creation over long periods. The artist has established his methodical and surgical procedure to achieve this simplicity for years. He slows the creative process down immensely by repeatedly layering thick oil paints. Each layer dries for days to weeks before Kim adds another brushstroke to modify the painting—this pause leads to the moment of critical thinking about perfection. The entire process becomes a continuous decision to harmonize instinct and rationality. Through this self- disciplinary practice, Kim attains a precise yet vibrating edge of straight lines and tension within color harmony.
"Straight line" is the fundamental element underlying the S.E.P series. In New York and Seoul, where the artist spent most of his life, the sharp-edged component of the surrounding architecture, like windows and doors, inspired Kim to conceive the Straight Line. To recreate the natural world on canvas, Kim meticulously measures to adjust the sharp lines' thickness and placement using rulers and painter's tape.
Horizon and Sunset, parts of the S.E.P series, consist of a single horizontal line in the middle of each canvas. Kim responded to a sense of abstraction in the horizon of an expansive ocean, where depth perception is indefinitely flattened by nature. In Red Sea, brushstrokes applied in a horizontal direction parallel with one another to maintain a sense of atmosphere in the compressed pictorial space. Without any recognizable figures in the sky or ocean, eight different red and one blue bands in various thicknesses complete the scene, creating lively dynamics between colors. In Gansbaai Sharks, darker brushstrokes outside of bands suggest a subtle existence of sharks in the ocean, leaving the possibility of further variation within the series.
Antithetical to the S.E.P series in which Kim focuses on graphic quality, his Loose Edge Painting (L.E.P) series conveys immediacy by capturing a specific moment through color and composition. The L.E.P paintings are freehanded over a shorter period. Complementing each other, both series share a common aspect of exploring the relationship of colors. The artist invites viewers to interact by pairing the paintings to create a synergy between themselves. Two pieces from the new Taeguk series which the artist has been working on since 2013 will be shown for the first time. This Taeguk series along with the S.E.P. series has been the artist’s personal therapy and meditation since 2013, which the artist has treated as a spiritual process to overcome a personal trauma and this in turn, has helped formulate his personal philosophy and visual aesthetic in creating art.