Fairfield University
| April 2013 | Fairfield University News Channel

"Po Kim: The Spirit of Change" on view at Walsh Art Gallery

The Korean-born American artist Po Kim (b. 1917) will have selections from his substantial body of work explored in the exhibition Po Kim: The Spirit of Change on view from Thursday, April 18, 2013 through Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at Fairfield University’s Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, located in the Quick Center for the Arts. The exhibition highlights over 30 works in a career that spans over six-decades, ranging from early abstractions on canvas from the late 1950s to recent paintings conceived in 2009 and 2010.

Born in Korea in 1917, Po Kim studied art in Tokyo, Japan. He returned to Korea in 1946 to establish the Fine Art Department of Chosun University in Gwangju, Korea, where he was a professor and a chairman. In 1955, he came to United States on a fellowship at the University of Illinois and eventually moved to New York City two years later, and he also briefly taught at New York University. Throughout his career, Po Kim has had his works exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and museums. In 2000, he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Letters from Chosun University. In 2005, Po Kim and his wife, American artist Sylvia Wald, founded The Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery in New York City as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In recognizing the importance of mutual understanding and the acceptance between Eastern and Western cultures, the organization promotes cultural harmony through the arts by sponsoring and hosting temporary art exhibitions, dance and music performances, and other artistic events of national and international artists.

The style that Kim initially embraced in this country was Abstract Expressionism, and he did so with vigor and confidence. “In the United States he was seeking ‘complete freedom,’ trying to put aside all difficulties and restraints he had lived through in Korea – whether artistic, emotional, or political,” said Jeffrey Wechsler, former Curator of Asian Art at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. “The artistic freedom of Abstract Expressionism was congruent to his artistic and psychological needs and, by the evidence of the paintings that Kim created in 1957, he was, immediately and extraordinarily, a fully competent Abstract Expressionist painter whose work fit in perfectly in appearance, quality and chronology to the second generation of the style.”

In a series of small paintings on paper in the early 1960s, Kim explored a format which bridged his Abstract Expressionist works and his forays into “stained” pigments and fields of color. He later practiced a personal version of color field painting that generally embraced the large scale and chromatic focus of the style. Around 1970, the artist moved from abstraction into new forms of expression.  He started to draw realistic images, straightforwardly and even didactically, embarking on a long period of realistic still life imagery presented with simplicity and attention to detail. At this point, Kim had worked through a decade-long experiment that came full circle – putting aside abstraction, taking up realism and creating a stage-by-stage progression of change that ended with an abstract-realist synthesis. This journey, in a sense, recapitulated all of the artist’s experience with forms, images, techniques, and conceptual approaches.  He was prepared to enter a long phase of personal variations on several themes that continues to this day.

“Po Kim is an artist who seems to fully embrace the concept of painting in the present moment, not necessarily looking backward or forward.  He appears to strive, in a natural way, for an art needless of gradual development, grand overarching themes, or the branding of a ‘signature style,’ said Mr. Wechsler. “To some extent, the multiple courses and pathways that his art has taken bespeak an internal desire to create an art rejecting time as an arrow or a limitation.  This desire is made visible through the many extreme alterations in style that Po Kim has undergone throughout his career, and his evident comfort with being something of an artistic chimera, merging his shifting creative manifestations into a hybrid career that is all the more healthy and powerful for integrating its many diverse components.”

The exhibition Po Kim: The Spirit of Change features works chronologically grouped by categories that illustrate the artist’s impressive oeuvre. These include: “Abstractions on Canvas” (1958-1970); “Abstractions on Paper” (1960-1962); “Colored Pencil and Pencil Drawings” (1970s); “Collages” (1979-1980); “Figurative” (1980-2000); “Tape Works” (2008-2009); and “Abstractions” (after 2008).  

Po Kim’s recent solo exhibition highlights include “Retrospective” at the Korean National Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea (2007), Chosun University Art Museum in Gwangju, Korea (2005, 2003, 2000), Nabi Gallery in New York City (1997), and at the Hankaram Art Museum and Seoul Art Center. Recent group shows highlights include showings at the Korean Mission to the United Nations Gallery in New York (2007), Gwangju City Museum in Gwangju Korea, National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul Korea, Gary Snyder Fine Arts in New York, and Smithsonian Institute, International Gallery in Washington D.C. Collections include the Chicago Art Institute, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Arts, Korea, Seoul Art Center, Gwangju City Museum of Art in Korea, Hanlim Art Museum, Daejon, Korea and in numerous public and private collections.

The Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery is free and open to the public. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., and approximately one hour prior to curtain and during intermission at all Quick Center events. The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit www.fairfield.edu/quick.

Last modified:  Tue, 16 Apr 2013 16:21:00 EDT

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