Alexander Berggruen opens an exhibition of works by Minku Kim

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Alexander Berggruen opens an exhibition of works by Minku Kim
Installation view.

NEW YORK, NY.- Alexander Berggruen is presenting Minku Kim: Foundation. This exhibition is open by appointment only, at the gallery: 1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3.

In reaction to his formal art education, Minku Kim has developed his own visual language, inspired by the punk movement, “Straight Edge”, referencing the refrain from the consumption of any alcohol or drugs. This struck the artist “as radical” and it “freed” him in navigating his practice. (1) Out of this freedom grew his Straight Edge Paintings (S.E.P) series–a body of work focused on what the artist calls “the true foundations of painting: light, color, composition, and space”.

The artist extracts the essences of an ensemble of specific moments to carefully render their core imagery, methodically pausing between each layer of paint. In conjunction with the paintings’ titles, Kim’s restrained palettes and minimalist compositions successfully balance a specificity with a familiar experience or feeling, as seen in the soft sense of lighting, distinct colors, and bold, wide areas of uniform space conveying a time of day in S .E.P (Pink Sunrise) and S .E.P (Neutral Day) , for instance. In other cases, Kim references concrete objects, as rendered in his 2018-2019 S .E.P. (Swimming Pool) where a restrained square of controlled splashes is painted in varying blues.

Embodiments of nostalgia and perfection in culture often appear in Kim’s work. Although the artist titled his 2019-2020 S .E.P (TBT) with “To Be Titled” in mind, the phrase also recalls the “Throwback Thursday (TBT)” social media trend. The artist’s decisive horizontal and vertical brushmarks portray distinctly abstracted hard-edge shapes in distinguished layers, hinting at a bright, clear memory. In yet another abstraction of culture, Kim’s 2013-2020 Taeguek No. 15 renders a portion of the Korean symbol “Taeguek”–distinguishably exhibited on South Korea’s national flag–which means “supreme ultimate” and represents balance. Here, the artist selected a semi-circular cropped portion of the symbol, advancing the symbol’s idea of ultimate balance by dissecting its imagery to find the basis of its harmony. Where Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky viewed geometry and music, respectively, as fundamental tools to painting, Minku Kim aims to balance his subjective memories, feelings, and experiences with objective renderings that distill nature, enigmatic moments, and cultural representations of nostalgia and perfection into carefully composed geometric abstraction.

Minku Kim (b. 1989, Seoul, South Korea) received a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 2012 and an MFA in Sculpture from the New York Studio School, New York, NY in 2017. He has been an artist-in-residence at many institutions including the Drawing and Sculpture Marathons at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, & Sculpture. Kim was awarded a MICA Achievement Award and a Painting Departmental Recognition Award from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011 and The Fifth US Representative Congressional Art Competition, New York in 2006. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

(1) Minku Kim with Maria Vogel in “Minku Kim”, Art of Choice , August 25, 2018.

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