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Poetic Sense of Figures 

- ART and World 2012

 Painter Ilhwa Kim is often called the “artist of flowers,” since they dominated her canvases.  Though her subject figures are quite delicate, many regard her paintings quite powerful as well.  Achieving unique combination of the delicate and the powerful, her modern usage of folk art colors and objects d’art are deeply rooted in Kim’s “poetic sense of figures. ”


 Kim’s painting echoes deep imagination by traditional oriental paintings, which was composed of both text poem and picture together in a work.  However, after erasing the traditional text poem, she achieves the imaginative layers by expressive lines and reconfiguration.  They embrace not only figures, but also their trajectories simultaneously.   The lines she knows are the spirit within a shape.

 Her subject shapes did not come from abstract thinking.   She spent enough hours to go actual places, collect raw materials, and wait days to get the initial perception matured.   As she points out, direct conversation with her subjects at actual locations have become main route of her reconfiguration.  Finally, very condensed brief lines achieve thickness by multiple layers on her work.  There emerges her perception of color objects and their existence quite naturally.  Both lines and color finally become quite perceptive waves on her works.

 Her colors are quite vivid, but latent instead of manifesting themselves. The latent spirit makes a splash yearning to feel the existence, but her colors wait for being dyed than painted. Color that are dyed through penetration are completely absorbed and do not disappear, assimilating with materials without chasm.   Her recent works cozily tell the inner feelings of colors in unity.


 Kim says, “ I wanted to project not the image of the visible, but the abstract and uncertainties that we all have like life or death, karma or destiny.” 

 Kim directly go toward the spirit within a shape, but the spirit can be achieved only by throwing out the initial perceptive line and color and only when they become inner shape off the outer shape.

The colors-the outcome of the absorption, penetration and reflection of lights - are distant from starkly bold primary colors. It is just that another wave resonant by primary figures. The waves of lines and color become dominant and change initial perception of main objects while viewers absorbed in her works. 

 Kim’s fish and flowers are a retreat into another realm away from the reality.  However, it does not mean her work deals with fantasy.  Kim’s work suggests the purified inner shapes away from the reality itself.  Again, it echoes deep imagination by traditional oriental paintings, which was composed of both text poem and picture together in a work. In a time of nostalgia for familiarity of old paintings, Kim Il-hwa fills the void.  She makes us happy as she takes us back in time with her own poetic figures out of “fish and flower paintings.”

 “ I take many photo shoots prior to painting.  Photo shoot helps not only initial perception of objects, but also I can have quite solid emotional base of my own work.  Without direct perception, I can become clueless easily and lose the emotional base.   After photo shoot, I make the primary figures in various shapes of fish and flower.  I try different approaches to achieve the emotional inner shapes on location.  Then, there comes a chance of big change.

At this point, I throw out everything so far.   I realize they can help me only the initial trial stage, not further.   I make a wide variation by trying different source materials composing the figure itself. 

For example, I turned the surface materials composing fish into color strings.   Then, the lines and textures of color strings change the sense of figure itself.  Also, I turned the materials composing flower into carved woods.  It blurred the distinction between the figure and background itself. 

Taking big chances makes me fully satisfied and they were quite rewarding. “

 Lastly, she draws lines with charcoal.  All these processes are to exude the beauty of the natural presence, but the underlying ingredients are already totally changed and they must be seen with the naked eyes.

What is inside and outside do not go on their separate ways, making a harmony and unity.  The bones and figures of her fishes, flowers, and waves resemble the expressions of joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure. 

Even when the basic figures are totally changed and turned into the wave of lines, since the outside and the inside are as such, the change is not betrayal but commonality. 

 Their commonality is the sentiment coming from her poetic sense of figures.

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