Tae Kyu Yim
January 16 – 20, 2019
In his first solo exhibition Never Ending Stories at Gallery JSA, an amusing body of works created in the style seldom seen in New York was presented. Growing up in Korea in the midst of the economic boom and movement for democratization in the 80s and 90s, Yim witnessed the chaos created by adults. As the restructuring of Korean society continued, a collision of values and competitive environment were inevitable. Undoubtedly, such experience in his youth left a strong imprint on the artist. Concurrently, the rise of Post-Modernism in Korea influenced by Western art community gave birth to a new generation of artists. These social, economic, and cultural changes are reflected in Yim’s artistic expression — recurring anonymous characters in his paintings that are neither kids nor adults called “Kidults.” The narratives in his works frequently recount on his own personal struggles in connection to generational issues in Korea. In doing so, he rejects the social notion of burdening individuals with complex responsibilities associated with adulthood.
Erehown (2009), approximately 27 feet wide, is a colossal painting consists of 12 wooden panels. It depicts a utopia of “Kidults” living and playing together harmoniously. The term “Erehwon,” a reversed word for nowhere, is first coined by an English poet Samuel Butler’s novel. The title implies a utopia that does not exist in reality, thus suggesting its inexistent nature. The painting is comprised of “Kidults” and other fictional characters in the surrealistic, symbolic, and imaginative environment based on the artist’s personal experience in Beijing.
A contemporary artist with a background in Asian traditional painting, Yim has developed an original approach to Asian painting techniques utilizing layers of paper and ink, in conjunction with other materials. He applies ink on thick, multi-layered paper, then covers it with a thin layer of paper before ink dries, where the artist subsequently draws with a sharp object. This original technique allows the ink to reappear through the scratched lines on the top layer in which the final product is drawing-like, rough and bold lines. He then uses this technique to draw characters and objects using oriental colors to portray the daily life and dreams of modern people. With the bold lines and colors combined with abundant stories packed in multiple wooden panels, Erehown emits brilliant energy.
About the artists:
Tae Kyu Yim