In his work, Kimsunken asks questions about human existence: who are we, why are we and what are we for? Kimsunken’s non-descriptive figure paintings occupy a singular space between representation and abstraction. For this exhibition, the artist reflects on new modes of representing and abstracting the human figure. Absence and presence are equally important in the new group of works – absence makes presence possible and presence exists through absence. The two states of being are inseparable.
Kimsunken’s repetitive and rigorous painting process emphasizes the physical properties of oil paint, with the resultant works deeply rooted in the history of the medium. He methodically primes the canvas with gesso, which he then covers in multiple layers of oil paint, giving the surfaces an otherworldly luminescence, as well as substantial weight. Despite his compositions’ reductive, abstract appearance – achieved by scraping away paint from the canvas – Kimsunken’s paintings represent the human figure. To the artist, this method is the most direct way of mark-making and is related to the core theme of his work - arousing the human condition - leading to the question of human salvation. The artist’s predominantly monochromatic paintings possess subtle yet richly worked surfaces with pronounced textures. Kimsunken sought to investigate the relationship between the paint material and the passage of time, with an emphasis on raising physical matter to the height of the human spirit. This exploration continues in his new works on paper, which represent a strong sense of visual immediacy and lightness. They act as a powerful counterpoint to the opacity and “weight” of Kimsunken’s paintings on canvas.
"I often respond to the transparency of watercolor. It is a very spatial medium with a quality of absence. All I do is scrape some parts away, trying to make the work less absent." – GJ Kimsunken
"I like making watercolors. It gives a feeling of acceptance, especially when the paint is absorbed by the paper so generously." – GJ Kimsunken
GJ Kimsunken (b. 1985, Seoul, South Korea) received his MFA from the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in 2010, and an BFA from the National Art School in Sydney, Australia in 2008. Kimsunken currently lives and works in New Jersey. His work has been featured in galleries and institutional exhibitions around the world.
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