Korean artist Mikyung Kim crafts tranquil paintings with painstaking care. Each canvas is composed of multiple layers of acrylic paint that are sanded by hand, softening the tone, texture and brush strokes to create a refind surface. The majority of her canvases involve around 20 or 30 layers, and sometimes as many as 60 to 70. They often begin with a dark, earthy tone, before progressing to lighter hues. “It is like building a structure on a two-dimensional surface: I start with the earth, and move towards the sky,” says Kim. “The process itself involves a great deal of anticipation until something finally emerges that can be shared. It is a quiet but intense meeting between my self and the surface of the canvas. The accumulation of numerous small gestures allows me to experience a new world, and feel uplifted.”
Kim was born and grew up in Seoul, and moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design in 1997. She began her art practice in New York, before moving back to Seoul in 2009, where she has lived and worked since. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in New York and Seoul, as well as Gwangju, Heyri, Yangpyeong, and Daegu. Her pieces also feature in the permanent collection at the Datz Museum of Art in Gwangju.
Much of Kim’s work incorporates fine-tuned geometry, with soft straight lines dividing fields of colour, and rectangular forms contrasting with one another, sometimes with only the faintest of difference in tone. Her palette is inspired by moments in everyday life. “I explore the painting process as an expression of personal experiences, relationships, and memory,” she says. “I start by dwelling on a single subject at length, and express the instant when I feel a connection – a moment that cannot be verbalised. I might feel such a connection to my favourite celadon vases, white objects, the sky, the wind, the light through my studio’s windows, or people I meet.”