Below article written in 2014 ===================================================

 

About my works

 

I express the circulation of nature, breathing lively, My vision of Utopia includes seasons, change and mystery.

 

Sea - Vital Fantasy

The sun rises in the East Sea : I wanted to make the paintings, not only because of the natural beauty, but also the vivid feeling of hope, ambition and joy of life which I felt in that place.

Looking at the sun rising, I can see two things – little fishing boats and huge ships that are floating on the horizon. Many big ships are coming and going between the Ulsan national industrial park and the sea. It is a thrilling moment to see the powerful day's beginning -the break of day.

 

Winter Sea : I’ve painted waves, sunrise on the ocean, the ocean at night, surfing and windsurfing. Still I ask myself, “How can I possibly compare with the experience of being there”? My mind and senses race to take it all in. Millions of tiny water droplets fly about, carried by piercing wind. Roaring, the waves crash against the rocks with a ceaseless rhythm. Daybreak appearing through the coal-black darkness is surely one of the highest perfections. For me it is rapture. It might be an earnest longing for the Utopia of life through the sunrise and crashing waves.

 

Snowing Winter Sea : This is the newly attempted series of the Winter Sea which focus on those vibrant feelings. There is a quite different feeling from the Winter Sea to the Maehwa, which instills in me particular thrilling and mysterious beauty.

 

Surfing : When I look at surfing, I can feel a visual ecstasy. To me, it is beyond beauty and not just general interest. I can get vitality when I am painting on the beach. It is a wonderful satisfaction to make my art like the surfers life. When I was painting on site, someone said, ‘The waves are surging up angrily.’ I am always fascinated at surging waves. Especially, when I see dark-blue waves raging up to a crescendo, and come crashing, rolling down. I feel these beats of life, as if Mother Nature lives and breathes.

 

The sensation I get while making 'Surfing' paintings is similar to the 'Apple Tree' series, which I have painted for a long time. I still remember the green apples' strong life force, ripening with the burning sun in the middle of summer, and the impression put on my canvas. I could feel the beauty of the apple tree’s leaves, rolling and waving with the lively thrill of my skin.

 

Maehwa (Plum Tree Blossoms)

Maehwa : My Maehwa paintings reach beyond the mere aesthetic beauty of the subject, bringing to bear symbolic meaning, especially in the realm of Korea’s emotional disposition: the noble character and strong discipline of the dedicated scholar. Particularly, it was the first attempt to paint the ‘Snowing Witner Sea with the Maehwa’ this year.

 

It is easy to imagine the tree and its beautiful flowers as symbolic of struggle and life’s perpetual soldiering on. The act of blossoming is both gentle and forceful. The petal’s delicacy contrasts to gnarled boughs and rough twisted trunks. The Maehwa stretches toward the unreachable sky with an unyielding tenacity.

 

The Maehwa blossom season thrills me. This glorious spectacle fills me with a sobering appreciation. Often, I spend several minutes standing in front of the tree, contemplating its beauty and the emotion it stirs. In addition to the connotations of the soldier’s spirit, the Maehwa touches me personally, reminding me of my hometown in spring. I think of my mother's love when I look at the blossom’s inconceivably graceful form.

 

From late winter to early spring, the flower buds struggle to burst forth in profusion, until all of heaven and earth is embroidered with leaves and flower petals! The cyclical beauty of nature, the miraculous perpetual cycle of life, and splendid joy - all are present here.

 

The primary setting of The Maehwa Works, the grounds of aged Buddhist temples, nurtures the senses with the savor of the changing seasons, and infuses these paintings with a lively spirituality.

 

Some of these works were completed in one sitting, while many of them were created over several years. Returning every year afresh to the thematic connotations of the subject has added depth of meaning along with the layers of paint.

 

Acrylic paint has availed for the expressive technique of rendering the painting’s backdrop, the structural integrity of the Maehwa. Thus, the figure of the tree remains intact while the oil paints are applied. Taking full advantage of both mediums, the material effect is a rhythm with attributes of watercolor in that it is merry and refreshing. So, it can be said that The Maehwa Works enact a harmonious marriage of the positive traits of disparate materials: those traditionally utilized for the painting of a Korean SooMukhwa, and the more modern materials used in Western paintings, which require their own distinct methodology.

 

Material

Most of the works were painted in oils on canvas. My fascination with surfers, waves, and sunrise, each expressed with several simple forms. I see the freedom of the brushes touch, its strength, and abundance in the material of oil.

 

 

 

 

Below article written in the early~middle of 2000s ==============================

 

 

About my works

My consistent interest in art making is to pursue pure and healthy images of humanity and nature:

The everyday lives of people, and the purity of nature which overflows with the force of life.

I think that nature is not merely a subject to be seen aesthetically but an intermediary which helps me to perceive reality truly and to improve it. I dream of people elated by the harmony between the ideal and the real.


I also think the pleasure of art making is very important. I like to draw and paint about natural phenomena such as dragonflies, fruit farms, flowers, falling leaves, and the ever-changing earth. I also like to illustrate fragments of daily life on my canvases.


When I see the flying of the dragonfly, I sense philosophical meaning and feel a selflessness.

I am infused with strong energy from the fresh fruit farms colored with deep green which sometimes looks like the east sea and sometimes looks like a black iron plate. The apples pulse with a red so much like blood that I almost expect them to burst, splashing me with the stuff of life.


I think visual rhythm and taste are most important.

Visual rhythm flows from the movements of brush and knife. The force of life emerges from the visual rhythm. In this regard, there's no division in technique between abstract images and the figurative images.

I also have much concern about the deliberate or accidental effects arising from the specific character of painting materials. Materials are potent ingredients in the stew of a painting


Oils and watercolors are my preferred materials. Recently, I have been using acrylic paint and other mixed media, but I find oils to be of superior clarity, transparency, adhesiveness, texture and versatility of shade and hue.


I am conscious of the ways in which the subjects of my art fit with my constitution and with a perhaps particularly Korean emotional sensibility.

I try to stick to experiences from my real life and times, striving to locate my identity relative to my heritage and a positive vision of the future. I bring to this endeavor a heartfelt appreciation for mysterious nature overflowing with the force of life, and a conception of life as essentially beautiful and pure.

 

1, Dragonfly Seasons

 

 My dragonflies have found expression in all seasons and many settings. The dragonfly in flight is a natural image which I have been working with since 1990s.

I am interested in the dragonfly as a symbol combining the refined power and activity of modern civilization with the raw, vivid life of nature.


The unfettered flight of the dragonfly echoes human mental and physical freedom as well as the whimsical world of the child. In short, my dragonflies evoke a return to nature and an expression of the desire for living naturally.

Space, my dragonfly series, is boundless.

This represents unlimited human imagination and the mysteries of mental and spiritual space.


The dragonfly, which flies freely in blue sky, signifies human mental and physical freedom as well as the whimsical world of a child.

In short, my dragonflies invoke a return to nature and express the desire for living naturally. The space of this painting is boundless, and represents the human imagination and the mysteries of physical and mental space.

 

 

2, Maehwa (Plum Tree Blossoms) in Winter

 

The works of "Maehwa in Winter" forms a part of the Winter of Dragonfly Seasons Series. The Maehwa has always figured prominently in the most famous Korean traditional paintings.

It is one of the four "gracious plants"(along with the orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo). These represent the noble character of the true gentleman.


Maehwa at Tongdo-Sa, which became a focus of my painting three years ago, have produced different impressions every season. I feel that the Maehwa offered here convey not only the simple beauty of nature, but also a sense of mercy reminiscent of the spiritual teachings of Buddha. Observing the flower buds bursting out in scarlet even as I painted them on the canvas in oils, I experienced a great fulfillment and completeness of life. Maehwa at Tongdo-Sa became a focus of my painting since 2003,

On the doorstep of spring, I am captivated by Maehwa opening on

an old tree at Tong-do Buddhist Monastery. It reminds me of a story I

heard in elementary school about a girl whose mother, as she lay dying

in mid-winter, longed to see the Maehwa once more.

   - In a feverish dream, the girl met the god of a mountain, who showed her Maehwa blooming on a snow-covered peak. The girl brought the flower from her dream and showed it to her mother. Miraculously, the mother's health improved, and she lived on happily for many more seasons.


I will never forget my great joy when I first saw the Maehwa blooming in the snow. Unfortunately, the snow soon melted away. I strove to capture the vibrancy of the Maehwa in powerful strokes and tones as bright and cheerful as watercolors.


I first used the acrylics to paint the winter dragonflies with the background of a cloudless night, then rendered the Maehwa generously in oils. I feel that this endeavor was quite successful, achieving a delicate balance between rich, heavy strokes of color and the light, airy beauty of space. Such celebration of open space is a long-honored tradition in Korean painting.


"Legends and Life Renewed"

On chill nights, the lucid winter moon reminds me of a Korean legend.

It is said that there is an ancient cinnamon tree on the moon. Under

that great old tree, lively hares are pounding grain in a mortar. My

winter work is inspired by this and other fabulous tales of the moon.


The vibrant red in the bud of each Maehwa has the power of fresh

blood pulsing through the heart. And of course the reality of an old,

seemingly barren tree bursting forth with new life is one of nature's

miracles.

Sharing the canvas with my winter moon dragonflies, the Maehwa brings the

heartwarming message of natural renewal.

 

3, Apple trees

 

 The apple orchard series is particularly close to my heart since early 1990s.

While not truly my boyhood home, the apple orchard reminded me of the feelings of my youth. In the orchard, I felt comfort and relaxation and enjoyed the memories of my youth. My boyhood was a time of wonder at the mysteries of nature, a time of innocence, a time of good health and happiness. Particularly, looking at summer-fresh apples, bursting with life after having survived the growing season, makes my heart stir.


In that one spot and on that one day, I felt all of life's ages, from the young supple nature of the trees, to the dark green leaves of the warm summer days, to the future abundant and refreshing fruit that the trees would bear. Looking at that painting makes me feel like summer, every day.

The scene struck me so strongly that I endured the intense heat of that summer day, ending up looking as if I had just showered. But, I was totally satisfied that I had captured the beauty of the moment.

 

 

4, A word on materials

 

I prefer to use oils. I have also used acrylics and watercolors. There were some problems with acquiring proper materials in my university days. In light of that past experience, I pay extra attention to the materials I use.


I generally use framed linen canvas that has been seasoned for several months, until the yellowish color of linseed emerges after several thin applications of Gesso, followed by a mixture of white oils, linseed and petrol.


I have mainly used Lefranc oils since the end of 1980s. I find that this line of paint expresses a clear and bright effect compared to other brands. Its matiere effect seems suitable for my painting style, which pursues the transparent and cheerful touch of watercolors in oil paintings.


As a medium, I use a mixture of English-made Winsor & Newton Liquin and Korean-made linseed or French-made poppy oil. Recently, I have attempted to use Liquin or poppy oil independently as medium. This medium allows distinct preservation and expression compared to my early works.


When working with acrylics, I commonly use the English-made Winsor & Newton, Australian-made Altelier or Korean-made Alpha brands. As with oils, the effect of acrylics varies depending on the medium. The fine effect of light and shade is a key of acrylics. The gel medium is often used to give luster to the acrylics. I also prefer a canvas on which the Gesso is applied several times.


Considering the delicate difference among watercolors, I use a variety of papers according to the motif and subject. I pay much attention to processes of display and storage, because watercolors are very vulnerable to light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Criticism

The Natural Life Force  
                                                       
               November, 2000 - Eipil Whang / Art critic

Sometimes artists make mistakes which ultimately transform their art style dogmatically.
This happens especially when they take on concepts beyond their ability. Changhan Kim is cautious about the subject matter which he chooses.

Kim has held three solo shows before this exhibition. His 1991 exhibition was about human and natural purity.
 The exhibition held in 1994 was about life and nature. And in his 1995 exhibition, which reflected his concerns regarding memory and nature, he evoked the life force of nature with images of the dragonfly.

He uses various painting materials (oil, watercolors, acrylics) in this series of works: "The Flying," "Dragonfly - Let's Fly," & "Making memories." The empty space in these pieces signifies the breathing of nature.
The loud colors express power and life.

In his painting, "Making Memory 3," Kim illustrates dragonflies vitally in four divided parts.
In one part, he paints heavily with a flat brush, and in another he chooses to leave much empty space.

In this type of painting, we can see that he observes his subject in the concentrated schema.
This schema embraces the world of imagination beyond the real observation. That is to say, this schema results from an imagination informed intellectually as well as via the senses.

Kim seems to have much concern about the past. This is clear in the series, "Making Memories." He applies the image of the dragonfly as a device to express his memories. Its real use is to enable the viewer to derive the general principle from its example, and to speculate beyond its trace into the realm of instinctual understanding.
The essence of this speculation is a transcendental attitude toward actual phenomena and continual pursuit of questions.
In other words, the aim of this speculation is creatively to derive the future. What is called 'speculative reason' emphasizes creation of future in the conceptual world, a system in which concepts embrace observations.

Generally, the situation in which there is no transcendence is known by the philosophical term 'MuBangJeein' This is not necessarily subjection but does involve a longing for freedom, for the state in which there's no border between inside and outside: the Chinese concept of 'MuBang' -- no direction.

Ultimately, the viewer may breathe freedom with the dragonfly. This breathing is the very force of life. The artist's reaction to the symbol of the dragonfly means that he can eliminate various related aspects of the actual object.

We can feel Kim's longing for freedom with nature in the empty space and the images of the dragonflies in his paintings. He understands nature's essence consciously and unconsciously. His art is a journey, a pursuit. This viewpoint toward his art making and this attitude have much potential.
In this way, he struggles to describe the philosophical through the illustration of form.

There is a freedom which can be achieved through exercising the mind and the will. Kim's  painting "The flying" is the expression of his will. In this painting, the dragonfly is painted on only one side as if it is drawn by something against the empty space of the canvas.
This kind of expression shows both the unlimited force of life derived from the empty space and the life of the will as seen in the reality of life.

Generally, to draw or to paint something is to do no more than illustrate its external conditions. External characteristics cannot reach to the level of experience.
Kim presses past the external to sublimate internally in his art making, even when drawing or painting a more formal image.
His longing for the world of consciousness creates metamorphosis in his internal world.

Changhan Kim's art is suffused with supernatural energy. It reveals his essence and invites the viewer into relation with his vitality.
The ideology and the aesthetics he pursues have great value because they are essentially the force of life toward freedom. It is my hope that his way of making art continues to develop in this profound vein.