Map is a portrait of the earth and also a face of human beings. Composed of signs and abbreviations, it shows a miniature of the world and gives a sense of the way we interpret the world at the same time. Map, Like painting, is a falsity based on reality and an attempt to revive what is fundamentally impossible to revive. That's how the map of actual size emerges, as in the Borges's novel which becomes a conventional analogy.
Terms of recent years-such as Digital Map, Navigation, Google, GPS, GIS, etc-are the latest version of the map which has changed as history evolves. The period of time had passed long ago when men hand-made maps by walking and seeing around in person. The tome in maps manufactured by photographs, scientific equipments, and digital systems is no longer, as were the cases of maps of the past, unalterable, and becomes variable and even transferable in real time. The same idea applies to the space within the map. When the traditional map shows the accumulation of time and space in one body, the digital map separates them. The map of cumulative photos taken by satellites, like Google Earth, is the collection of various times and spaces. In short, it is not one sheet of a unified map any longer.
Every map up until modern times has been located somewhere between reality and fantasy in a subtle way and were situated across painting, geography and ideas.
Kim BoMin's recent works start with the same perception. The serious interest in the maps of the past on her part originates from her exploration in Wonseo-dong, shy says. That interest has grown when she saw Kang Se-Hwang's plaudits on Kang Hee-Un's painting <In Wang San-Do>. Kang Se-Hwang praises that painting, saying that 'we are, whenever painting actual landscapes, naturally concerned about our artwork becoming too much similar to map; but this artist paints close to the real landscape while still keeping the customs as an artist ought to'. What Kim BoMin wanted to work on was such a painting that is an actual landscape but at the same time, being nat a map, offers those dignity and pleasure as paintings should.
It is a bold attempt that brings the tradition and contemporariness of actual landscape together along with her own interpretation on them. In doing that. Kim BoMin rings a slight change in the way she has been a working. Her past works show a collision on the same picture between a landscape with the traditional painting technique and the scene of buildings and their surroundings painting technique and the scene of buildings and their surroundings painted from the modern viewpoint. And the viewpoints are often a long panoramic scene, sometimes shown in 360 degree view. The subject matter of her was Seoul, those scenes she passes by all the time.
"Seoul in now one huge nature. The city is not simply an outside scene. It is part of us. I strive to compose something new in this unstable context and create some possibility to transform city as an individual site by opening up the gap between the reality and imaginary. The daily life of 'Now-Here
' is portrayed with the input of value within city environment as landscape by adopting traditional methodology along with my own method and material." Portraying the Now-Here
in her own method fundamentally persists. Seoul remains as the subject matter, focused upon familiar places. Its marvellous means is similar to Gye-Wha technique in the it combines straight edge method-also called tape method-with conventional technique. We, however, detect some changes in her viewpoint and perception.
Kim BoMin's recent works begin with techniques of aerial view, uniting the perspective of old map with that of painting. We see this immediately in the paintings of Gahoe-dong, Samcheong-dong and Wonsoe-dong. Such a viewpoint, of course, is one adopted in GyumJae's <Keum Gang Jun-Do(1734)> and is also the perspective used from of old in order to draw the whole landscape as in palace paintings like <Dong Guwal-Do(1830)>. <Painting of Samcheong(2008)> however, is not for explanation or guidance as the case of <Dong Guwal-Do>. Kim BoMin brings the actual map a field study, and imagination together in order to create the scene. As a result, <Samcheong-dong> region has the scenary that contains buildings both classical and modern a the same time. That space shows a landscape formed by layers of historical times.
The space created by the aerial view techniques demand attitudes viewing both maps and paintings. Painting as a map forces our memory to correspond with the buildings such as the Board of Audit, the Constitutional Court, and Hyundai Office in it. Hills and trees out of building and roads, on the other hand, should be viewed from the attitude needed when seeing traditional paintings based on 『Gaejawon Hwajeon』.
Seeing from my personal experiences, it seems we take a similar attitude when we try to search major buildings in Seoul from the top of Mt. Bukhan while imaging Han River, Mt. Nam and Mt. Kwanak when there were no such buildings.
Kim BoMin's works, in which the scales and directions are inaccurate, the locations and shapes are similar, and nature belongs to the past, show the pain and pleasure contained in the sceneries of our times, represented by a subtopia free of all the senses of place. Kim BoMin certainly does net paint every single detail in the map. for example, we do net see the Blue House below Mt. Bugak and buildings like Jeongup-won are painted in isolation. In her map of perception, Jeongup-won, not Cheongwa-dae, protrudes as a meaningful place. Jeongup-won Is the place where retired court ladies stay in their later years to cleanse karma of this life. What is important is net the place, like Cheongwa-dae, in which people build up karma but where they cleanse it.
Techniques of aeriel view apply also to the places such as Island, Yeoui-do, etc, on Han River. Yeoui-do is flattened out as if it's pushed down with roller and the bridges of Han River disappear into eternity. Thing to focus here is the art series of Bam Island. Bam Island is a bizarre place which reappeared after they had digged out it due to the construction work in 70s. The reappearance of an island which had once gone out of sight is a mystery as well as reality. Kim BoMin approaches Bam Island from three different angles; aerial view, the Island itself, and Kangbuk Riverside Road. Perhaps these viewpoints simply reveal how Kim BoMin agonizes regarding what her perceptive map or her own proper way of seeing reality should be.
Kim BoMin's choice of traditional method and straight edge tape method used to describe Seoul does not cause conflicts or tensions in the work borrowing maps. Instead both method aptly hold each other in harmony. Where the conflicts of the two methods are most visible in the more traditional landscapes. Such a point becomes most visible in paintings which include Yeoui-do and Cheongggye Creek. In the latest works, the traditional scenes are brought to the fore with modern buildings. Cheongggye Creek and Yeoui-do are such places. The traditional landscapes suggest a hint of expressive elements along with techniques of abstract nature which reminds of green landscape. Buildings and their surroundings evoke imaginations in them. It's easier to feel the sense of reality in the latest works than in the past ones. Then what breaks the sense of distance? As the title of the exhibition says, perhaps the artist herself is in a state of drift, and the recent works are the report of a drifting journey.
Men's recognition of the world is far from perfect. The world is continually changing, highly fluid, making people uneasy, and even indifferent to human beings. One possible way of making the world stable is to transform it into some kind of a fixed image. Painting is extremely effective in doing that. Through a primitive, physical process, the artist will be comforted by the fact that he or she at last succeeded in creating the unalterable world. We call those fixed images pictorial facts in distinction from the reality.
Kim BoMin's work try to fasten the uncomfortable and insecure present by borrowing the perspective if old map. And such attempt evokes the viewer's interest. As Kim BoMin says herself, such interest derives from "the intention to build strength that's stirred from new interpretation of matter by disparately and arbitrarily portraying binomial subjects."
Thinking twice, however, the traditional painting method and today's Seoul which Kim BoMin Sees as disparate share between them that they are both very similar to a kind of virtual reality. Seoul is a sort of a huge imagination which desperately builds and creates something to hide its fundamental lack of planning, prospect, philosophy, and consistency. Recently renovated Kwanghwamoon explains this well. It hosts a series of lousy events in order to conceal nothing like designs, aestheticism, philosophy, or coherence exists there. The traditional painting may be similar although with different direction. They are products of the period in which their original intentions have almost disappeared. As the their influences have been rapidly decreasing, they are overlaid with exaggerated meanings to hide that kind of absence.
Strangely enough, both buildings in Seoul painted with tape method and those places done with traditional method are a kind of the collection of virtual realities with common traits. Doesn't the odd tension of the paintings arise because the internally similar places encounter with each other as if being different with externally different faces. The secret of 'Now-Here
' which Kim BoMin tries to express may lie in here.
Despite her not-long career as an artist, Kim BoMin has attracted enormous production. Thorough preparatory study and learning and elaborate methodology are the very things that makes her works of high standard. However, Kim BoMin's attempts, as Ahn Kyung-Hwa points out, are not strong enough to be a criminal, nor seem easy to completely dispel sentimentalism, as Kim Hak-Ryang remarks.
These comments, at the same timer, amount to pointing to Kim BoMin's strengths. My personal remembrance shows the stronger the expressive elements and the more emotional, Kim BoMin's works tend to become less persuasive. In other words, her more restrained attitude without an exaggerated empathy would keep her works in high standard with an elaborate plot and persuasiveness. Certainly, her works's concreteness constitutes a definite source of strength. Kim BoMin's landscape sometimes only with dogs or cats but without any human beings adds a sort of narrativeness to it.
Kim BoMin has so far been showing the concrete way of seeing the world with her own personal perspective while successfully avoiding possible traps. Her persuasiveness stems from it. Kim BoMin's got to reexamine the geographical position of her painting in order to proceed on more. Now is the time for the artist to ask back of the history and meaning of every scenery in her paintings and look deeply inside the place's intricate and diverse connections.
Kang Hong-Goo / Artist