Ji Yong Kim
drawing and painting, installation
My work borrows languages of religious, sacred, or spiritual images from diverse cultures. I am drawn to the potential space of contemplation and contemporary spirituality within my work. Through a range of mediums from drawings and paintings to video works and mixed media, I investigate the intersection between traditional images of Buddhist art with images from contemporary popular culture. The use of symmetrical designs and patterns, Mandala-esque structures, and gateways often evoke visual languages used for spiritual contemplation. Yet within this world, it is occupied with various imagery from popular cultures, ranging from advertisements, comics, anime, pop icons, quasi love poems, to virtual and cyber-space. New forms and meanings created by fusing together culturally different elements interest me tremendously. I am fascinated by how these two seemingly opposite worlds of spiritualism and pop culture adapt, merge, and blend into one another. I draw elements from East and Southeast Asian culture where I was born and raised. Hybrid cultural forms come together as a reflection of my upbringing and exposure to different countries. Traditional and culture-specific use of decorative patterns and symmetry is a huge inspiration for me. My work reflects how I experience my multicultural background, and the complexity associated with such a hybrid identity that lacks a clear sense of belonging to a specific place and time. The cubistic fractured representation ultimately reflects the difficulty in fully understanding my own cultural background, which continues to feel incomplete in multitudes, always in flux, never as a complete whole.
Ji Yong Kim was born in Bucheon, South Korea. His works are often inspired by his experience in Myanmar where he spent his adolescent years. His drawings and painting investigate parallels between formal abstraction, Buddhist spirituality, and popular culture. His most recent exhibitions include “Intertwined Fragments” (2022) in Tokyo, Japan, “In/Between” (2022) in NY Live Arts NYC, “Homegrown” (2021) in Chelsea, “Brooklyn Seoul” (2021) in Brooklyn Waterfront Art Coalition, and “Sentiment” (2021) in SFA gallery, NYC. He received his B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design, and M.F.A. from Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is an instructor of drawing, painting, and foundation courses in Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey, advocating for public art education for over 15 years. He is a resident artist in ChaShaMa located in Brooklyn Army Terminal. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
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