With love from the far east: Kim Mi- Sook's "literary paintings"

An artist from Incheon, Korea, is showing her “literary paintings” for the first time in Chennai.  

author_img Ujjvala K Published :  01st September 2017 06:11 PM   |   Published :   |  01st September 2017 06:11 PM
Kim Mi- Sook

Kim Mi- Sook

Korean artist Kim Mi-Sook poses a few tricky questions in the minds of viewers. Her approach is based on questions about the constructs of material objects that are visible to the naked eye, when seen in the context of the spiritual inner aura of the same objects.

Kim’s collection of Korean literary paintings — nine art works, all of them based on oriental handheld fans — are on display at the show titled The Flowers Say Summer, being hosted by the InKo Center. 

Kim Mi- Sook

The Indian connect
Mi-Sook realised the need for a new perspective after three decades of painting. The way she looks back at things now, she had only been holding a paint brush to create art and mechanically pursue only the outer shell and visible beauty of objects.

“I felt a sense of shame as I blatantly neglected the divine inner strength of the same objects,” she recalls, explaining how she took to the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita to seek answers to her professional and personal questions such as, “How can I create a better painting?” and “How can I lead a better life?”

The artworks were all created in a year after Kim managed to consciously recenter the purpose of her life. The nine handheld fans, mainly made of white Chinese paper, are all dominated by motifs of flowers like lotuses, peonies, magnolias and wild flowers covering more than three-fourths of the fans, with singing birds, humming birds, bees and kingfishers complementing them.

All the elements are painted in five prominent inks, with Korean inscriptions embedded either on the outer borders or in the corners of the fan’s frames.

Flowers of joy
The lotus fields and natural scenic elements are in the spotlight in Kim’s new works. “Through my journey of self-discovery, I realised that the flowers, the birds, the leaves and I have a lot in common — or rather, we are all the same things,” she offers.

On a similar thought, Rati Jafer, the director of InKo Center suggests, “It is universally accepted that lotuses rising from the sticky mud to become beautiful flowers are a symbol of growing out of a predicament and becoming a new person.” She adds, “understanding Kim’s journey, I can say that the lotus fields are a metaphor of her sojourn of soul-searching.”

This is the first time that Kim has set foot on Indian soil, but she’s no stranger to Indian culture. “I discovered yoga ten years ago, which not only improved my physical health, but blessed me with spiritual comfort,” explains the artist, who is currently the president of the Incheon Literary Painting Association.

She is not done with India yet, as she says, “While I find a balance between body and soul and things visible and invisible, I would like to know India deeply even as I discover it outwardly.”

At The Gallery, InKo Center, Adyar. Opens on August 31, 6.30 pm. On display until September 15. Details: 9840013017