Celebrating Contemporary Art

by Katerin on September 25, 2018

With September’s lower temperatures and humidity making it a bit more pleasant to walk around New York, I found myself back at the Baahng Gallery on the Upper East Side for an exhibition by Korean modernist painter Kim Hong Tae. Curated by Liz Yisun Kwon, the collection featured the artist’s early and continuous series of works titled “Primitiveness + Child’s Mind”. I was fortunate to meet the artist during my visit and speak with him about his work.

Kim’s abstract paintings make use of highly contrasting spaces. The first is filled with figurative markings, signs and signals and meant to evoke a sense of chaos. The juxtaposing lines and forms, which incorporate the five Korean cardinal colors of blue, red, yellow, white and black, overwhelm the senses with unconstrained energy and liveliness. The second makes use of negative space either in white or monotone brown or gold, and is otherwise empty save for a small symbol or extraction of color that connects it visually and emotionally to the first panel. The viewer is left with a sense of calm which balances the busyness and disorder of the primary panel.

Kim describes this as his desire to capture yin and yang; the opposing forces in life and nature constantly pushing and pulling against each other, but at the same time maintaining balance. The artist intended for his work to reflect an inquiry into life and the world in the way a child’s mind would. His work asks the viewer to ponder the questions of permanence and change, humanity and benevolence in the face of a violent and ever-changing world. One piece which stood out was a multi-media work titled “Amazing Grace”, which used a traditional painting of a ship at sea during a storm inset among Kim’s abstract painting. The work also included an audio track of vocals and bagpipes performing the song, Amazing Grace.

Kim Hong Tae Solo Exhibition – now through September 30th at Baahng Gallery, 790 Madison Avenue.

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