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The basic language of Kim Kun-ju’s sculpture speaks of alienation, and refers to estrangement and de-familiarization, while the backbone of his technique is the de-contextualization of things. The world he dreams of is a revolt against, subversion of orderly systems between objects and objects and the world, in which de-familiarization arises. Through alienation, Kim attempts to review objects through subversion.

Things in daily life often appear hackneyed. Kim rids them of clichés by adorning them with new clothing. The depaysementtechnique he uses is provides objects with a new look. For Kim Kun-ju, "All things existing in this world, such as humans, natural things, objects, incidents, and certain aspects, form specific relations through certain combinations, in a certain time. A myriad of relations changing every moment are all the time unpredictable, like new myths."

Kim’s two serial works Mythsand Collectionregard things. More accurately, they are the material convergence of their concepts. Everyday objects like furniture, a violin, a Statue of Liberty, a chicken, a cherub, and a saw-toothed wheel appear in relief on white canvas, which appears like a painting and sculpture, to present the contours of objects. (Acute black line drawing particularly stands out in his relief work.) In Myths, contours overlap to form a shape on square, monochromatic canvases. Mythsspeaks of Kim’s pursuit of painterly tradition and convention that through bas-relief, blurs the lines between sculpture and painting.

Collectionon the other hand is a sculpture indicative of Kim’s acute imagination. Inspired by the shape of a bag, it presents a collection of images, including a butterfly, swine, dog, saw-toothed wheel, and furniture. Its overall shape is rectangular with a handle on top, so we see it in a glance as a bag. Pierced on closer inspection, Collectionis composed of large and small elements, one suggesting a bag, the other a variety of objects, whose combined contours echo the Gestalt notion of figure and ground.

While the images of cloud, leaf, and violin in high-relief suspend on the wall in Myths, the images of a sofa, cloud, books, and fish, carved in the ground, hang in the air in Unfamiliar Drift. The atmosphere evoked by it is surreal. Each object appears to float in the air, so viewers can discover hidden aspects of things, through Kim’s re-contextualization, placing objects in a new context.

In MovingKim shows those in a studio and represents them in abstract form by digitally manipulating their images, attempting to present another aspect of things. In Monologueshe combines the image of fire with the sharply cut contour of a standing person. The subjects of his representation encompass natural elements such as fire, air, water, wind, and grass; and even invisible attributes like energy and "Gi" (spiritual energy). For Kim Kun-ju, sculpture is the vehicle and medium of visualizing the invisible alongside painterly elements.

By Yun Jin-sup / Art Critic & Honam University Professor

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