5 minutes with Young-sung Kim

Nothing. Life. Object. (beetle VII), 145cm x 90cm

07 Nov 5 minutes with Young-sung Kim

Born in Seoul, Korea in 1973, Young-sung Kim is a Korean and New York City based artist. Young-sung Kim creates hyper-real paintings exploring contrasting subject matters to illustrate the differences between the living and the material… Read what he had to say about his incredible collection, ‘coexistence‘ – in the gallery this November.

  • Tell us about yourself. When and how did your journey begin as a painter?

I am a 43 year old artist born in Seoul, based in New York and London for work and exhibitions. My career as an artist was encouraged when I won the highest award in Youth Biennale in my last year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) student in Hong-Ik University in Seoul, South Korea (Most prestigious Fine Arts school in Korea). Since, I have had the privilege of winning 30 different awards in other competitions and exhibitions internationally which has helped me to build by profile as an artist.


  • As a Korean artist, how does it feel to have your art works in the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA)? What does this mean to you?

To Koreans, SeMa is the equivalent of MOMA in New York. It is an honour to have my artwork permanently displayed in SeMA and to hold regular exhibitions. My work is also displayed in Oci museum and Art Retreat Museum in Singapore.


  • How long does it take for you to complete a painting?

Usually takes about 2-12 months for me to complete a piece.


  • What message do you intend to portray within your ‘co-existence’ collection?

Nothing. Life. Object. 3 letters combined in Korean actually means non-living object. Through my art I portray Life (small animals) and Object (Substances to symbolise modern civilisation) together in a single piece. Through this odd combination, I wanted to express emptiness and bleak nature of modern society. ‘Snail on a Spoon’ for instance means this beautiful creature doesn’t only exist to be eaten by humans. On the same note ‘Fish in a Glass’ tries to express that they are not to be trapped for our enjoyment and ‘Frog on the bolt’ also suggests that they are not some sort of tools or parts. This irony is where the whole ‘co-existence’ is coming from.


  • Many of your painting have gold fish, a nail and a frog. Do they portray a specific representation?

As a kid, I was very much into crafting and drawing. I took a special interest in animals and enjoyed drawing and making them. I felt like I could express other objects with a relative ease but these beautiful creatures like insects and frogs were very difficult to draw due to the complex nature of their anatomy and amazing nature’s colours. This in turn motivated me to submerge myself into study of art. There are a few standards that needs to be met when I pick a model. First they need to be small and beautiful and second they need to be common ones where people find little interest in. I have special love for frogs, snails and gold fishes because I find it meaningful to recreate them beyond people’s comprehension by providing that extra detail and changing their sizes.


  • What is your favorite artwork? Why?

Every piece is important to me but if I am to pick one I will say its ‘Frog on Bolts’. It took me almost 5 months to finish and I faced difficulties right from the planning stage through to photo taking and painting stage. The piece feels like a daughter to me after spending such a long time together


  • What sort of role do you believe art has on society? What does art mean to you?

Art, to me becomes meaningful when it goes beyond the realm of recording, reporting, fun, touching and healing to make people think and give opinion. An artist uses multiple different materials and traditional oil painting techniques to create a piece for months and sometimes years to go beyond what can be captured by a camera phone at the press of a button. Yes, it may be a personal challenge for the artist to create a piece that looks more real than reality but I think if an artwork can make even a few people re-think about the small lifeforms that they’ve overlooked or change their perception about the planet and the environment to make the world a better place, the art work comes alive with meaning.


  • What are your plans for the future?

I have many exhibition going on in NY, London and Korea, many also being planned. I hope I can stay active in Australia as well. Other than the ‘hyperreality’ painting work that I do, I’ve been preparing for sculpture and installation artworks for quite some time and it will be realised shortly. I also plan to challenge myself with Kinetic art along with them.


Young-sung Kim’s solo exhibition, ‘coexistence’ is on display until November 27th, 2016.

View the exhibition catalogue here.



No Comments

Post A Comment