Jinchul Kim’s numinous paintings inspire in the viewer an instinctive reverence for these sacred testimonials which bear witness to achingly vulnerable human privacies in which the deepest, most authentic moments of being are revealed.
Faces, streetlights dissemble from the quotidian as Kim’s subjects are suspended in Kundera’s unbearable lightness of being between the definitions and limitations of history and the unknown potential of the future, that brief, mystical moment before they make the choice that will cast the trajectory of their fate.
With absolute discipline, devotion and fidelity, Kim does not simply paint, but rather invokes, raises, and calls forth from the very fabric of the canvas every molecule until the primal, originating emotion is incarnate, and the painting, begotten, not made, transcends it materials and breathes and lives.
We, who are privileged to be in the presence of this phenomenon, experience, however briefly, the Negative Capability that poet Keats described as the capacity to be “… in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” We no longer feel the need to speculate on the past or future in these paintings, but inhabit a divine present. As a result, we too are transformed from observer to participant in these exquisitely rendered moments, segments and fragments that woven together create the fabric of our collective, truly authentic, human selves. Jinchul Kim's paintings move us out of and beyond ourselves and we are never the same.
Poet Laureate of the City of Slisbury, Maryland
Portrait of You
Jinchul Kim has titled this exhibition of his paintings and drawings "Portrait of You." This type of paradox is at the center of Kim's art.
Despite the clarity and meticulous detail of his photo-realist style, both the subject and the meaning of Kim’s paintings are ambiguous. The array of visual facts in Kim's paintings presents us with questions, not answers. "Portrait of Kate" or "Turning Face," for example, thrust us into the midst of emotionally charged situations that seem to be part of larger, still unfolding narratives. However, the specific emotion, the situation, and the implied story all remain open to interpretation.
Most of Kim's paintings are composite images, based on his own drawings and photographs, plus other sources, including the Internet. The smooth, even surface of his most recent works, such as "Portrait of Kate" or "Self-Portrait with Green Liquid," recalls images on a television screen or computer monitor. In contrast, the visible, fine linear brushstrokes of such earlier works as "Michaela" or "In My Movie" are reminiscent of the work of Andrew Wyeth. In either case, however, we're always aware of the character of Kim's images as carefully constructed works of "art." He does not want to create the illusion that we are seeing an actual "slice of life."
Kim has referred to his paintings as "poems." As in poetry, we need to consider multiple meanings, as well as to read between the lines. Our response reveals as much about ourselves as about Kim’s works: as the title suggests, the exhibition is a portrait of “us”.
Professor of Art History
For his Union Gallery exhibition, “Portrait of You”,
Nov. 20 – Dec. 19, 2003
Art Reviewed F. Lennox Campello
Jinchul Kim at Perry House Gallery
Jinchul Kim, "New Paintings," Perry House gallery, 1017 Duke Street, Alexandria 703/836-5148 until Nov. 24, 1997. If these pieces were unsigned, and placed in the walls of some austere museum in New England, 9 out of 10 viewers would swear that they are looking at new works by Andrew Wyeth (the 10th viewer might be Andrew or Jamie). Kim has deceptively brilliant painting skills, but once we look at his texture closely, we discover thousands of tiny strokes of a mad brush which builds skill, color, eroticism in nearly every piece, including some mundane landscapes! These are Helga-like women, who sport that pouty, dark inner beauty striving to break through the Nordic boundaries of the models. My favorites were "Many Times Over" and "Miss Michaela," among the portraits (all of which seem to produce a special treatment of the eyes which deliver a sad inner look to the finished pieces) and "Fog" among the landscapes. In the latter, an abandoned shoe by the side of a slushy automobile is disturbing and chilling. Kim is at the vanguard of the new "Get Real" movement which is sweeping the art world (I wish); don't miss this show.
Art Reviewed By
New York Times Art Critic Vivien Raynor
It is the one thing for Western artists to borrow from their counterparts in the Far East – they’ve been doing so since the first galleon circumvented the globe. But it is quite another matter when the procedure is reversed, as it was after the end of World War II.
Jinchul Kim was born in Korea and having achieved both his BFA and MFA there, he moved to the United States, where he has since gained an additional master’s degree and, over the last decade, exposure in numerous Manhattan galleries.
The artist has worked non-objectively, he has also experimented with video and other technological advances. But now, his attention is consumed by the style most at odds with Eastern tradition, namely Photo-Realism. Furthermore, he concentrates on subjects that lend themselves to the mode-Wyeth-like landscapes, comely young women with tousled blonde hair, figures seated in automobiles and the like.
Consciously or not, Kim sometimes gives an Asiatic cast to a Western face but this is so slight as to be all but imperceptible. In all other respects, he appears to be technically and culturally transformed, a painter in his late thirties waiting and assisting in the fusion of all the world's cultures. He certainly has the experience necessary for achieving this end but there is always the possibility of a revolt by his soul. Kim may well be too talented and too cosmopolitan for his own good.