Artist Minjung Kim and Rail board member Helen Lee discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.
Minjung Kim is a contemporary Korean artist best known for her ink paintings by their transparency as well as her subtle formal compositions on layered paper. Committed to re-interpreting traditional Korean aesthetics, Kim employs a process-based organization of her thoughts, problems, and whims in each of her artworks. Through the repetitive work of burning and layering mulberry Hanji paper, she conveys the process of emotional healing and meditation. Often colorful and staccato, the artist describes her calligraphic work in emotional terms: “The movement, the colors, they are so calm and peaceful. They are my state of mind,” she says.
Born in 1962 in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, Kim was encouraged by her family to pursue her artistic inclination from an early age, studying under various teachers including famed watercolorist Yeongyun Kang, and between the ages of thirteen and twenty-nine, Oriental calligraphy. This latter study allowed her to understand the fundamental precepts of Asiatic speculative tradition. As Jean-Christophe Ammann describes in his essay, “Oriental (figurative) thought differs markedly from that of the West. If Western art traditionally has always been subject to major changes and sudden breakthroughs, that of the East gives the priority to the constant. The constant bears within it changed perception and its forms of expression without continuity being lost.” (J. C. Ammann, The Light, The Shade, The Depth, 2015). The study of calligraphy did not just endow Minjung with this vision of the world but also taught her to communicate by means of the extremely controlled use of the brush, which “channels” the energy and directs it onto the paper. Read more
Helen Lee has had many roles in the art world, including collector, academic, art advisor, art book editor and auction house specialist. She has worked at Christie’s, Harry N. Abrams Publishing, the Robert Miller Gallery, and for James Wolfensohn, among others. Her passion for the arts derives from her belief that art and culture provide vital means of communication across cultural and political divides. All art forms, whether through music, theater, dance, poetry or literature, help us to make sense of the world and current events and can clarify how best to move forward. Art has the power to be eternal and has the unique ability to challenge and enrich our lives daily. Helen is also a certified Hatha yoga and meditation instructor.