Awakening Words lost at heart into Disciplinary Practice and Healing

Written by Yoon-Sub Kim, Art Critic, Director of The Korean Arts Management Institute, Ph.D. in Art History



  Love and hate, hope and despair, joy and fury, longing, fear, craving, desire, courage……. Life is the result of so many emotions in a mixture, but no one lives expressing all those feelings as felt. Rather, there are more situations than not in which the circumstances require them to be hidden and tucked in, leading the feelings to cool down and degenerate even to dilution of its original presence. Artist Jieun Kim's works show the process of finding "words hidden deep in our hearts", the visualization of the inner emotions. Come to think of it, they are natural expressions and languages of emotions, but have they been frequently spoken outwardly, or at all? Thus was created Jieun Kim's works that portray "communicating in internal emotional languages."

  "The feelings that rise and fade in the head or in mind in an endless disorderly manner become more and more confusing through the listing of words, and are formed into shapes of the reality similar to in which you and I reside. They become languages like primitive organisms, and the various languages become mirrors that reflect the society. Studying Spanish and English languages for years in parallel to endeavoring in creating artworks was not simply out of mere curiosity or necessity. It was my own way of survival out of desperation to acknowledge despair in reality as hope, in the abyss of unconsciousness."

  As Kim had said, her works are another method of projecting the countless daily lives of the society. In other words, they are sketches of life's hopes and inspirations through organic combinations of text. The process of learning a language or learning a literature is, after all, for smoother communication between individuals and moreover understanding different cultures. Kim's attempt is also a way of achieving the completedness of life through building relationships with people. Therefore, the geometry of the text itself isn't of such importance; what matters is the text's original role and meaning.  

  Still, among the visual elements of Kim's pieces, there are other substantial elements than the text; First of all, they are the simplified shapes of flowers, wine bottles, and cocktail glasses as the main characters. They seem like the sample captures from the various faces of everyday lives. In other words, they are the collected daily emotions. Thus, a kind of text met with fragments of daily life become richer creations of episodes. Even still, there is something else that makes the story more complete; They are the traces of embroidery-like stitches. The stitches fill the entire screen at times, or describe some simplified images. In any case, their role is to enhance the balance of the screen and the maturity of storytelling.

  "Creating artworks sustains my humble life as it goes through the pain of the five senses clashing daily, and it itself is the communication both directly and indirectly with other individuals. It is the "training process of finding clues to the irony and hope of life" from experiencing both deficiency and healing through relationships. I find words hidden deep in my mind by working on paintings, and shaping my inner being into forms is fascinating to me; This process is similar to how we begin and build relationships with others or oneself in life."

  Through countless repetition of writing and sewing across the canvas, Kim is expanding her relationship with others as well as completing building relationship with herself. The creation process is rather simple; It starts by writing phrases or words from the books that she had read on thick Hanji (traditional Korean paper), Sambe (traditional Korean hemp cloth) or silk. The tool for writing is not of importance - It can be a regular brush or a sharp-edged branch from a tree. Then, the artist overlays light-colored paint derived from sumi-ink or color pigment multiple times on the writing but not to the extent that the writing would become unrecognizable. For the finishing touch, in some cases, a needlework that leaves a regular stitch pattern is included. What is important in this stage is the maintenance of a certain speed. While the words and sentences are expressions of emotions, this last step requires utter calmness. Going through such procedure to create an art piece resembles the way of life of a disciplinant.


  Artist Jieun Kim was born in Seoul and majored in Oriental painting at Hongik University's College of Fine Arts and Graduate School. Kim has participated in nine solo exhibitions and dozens of group exhibitions in Korea and other countries. She has also been invited to 12 international art fairs, including Art Busan and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong. Kim has worked as an associate professor of Fashion Production Design in the department of Space Design at Busan Institute of Science and Technology from 2000 to 2016, and a career research advisor at Korea Institute of Development from 2013 to 2014. Her artworks are housed in Northern Busan Police Station, Busan Arpina, Busan Haedong Hospital and many other locations. Kim is currently active as a full-time artist.