KIM, Seung Young - Reflections

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art
Nov 24, 2016 7:53AM

                              KIM, Seung Young's solo exhibition 

KIM, Seung Young, Reflections, 2016, Letter carved old bricks, Iron, Variable size

KIM, Seung Young has ponderously conveyed an invisible introspection of a human using keywords ‘memory’, ‘trace’, ‘communication’, ‘reconciliation’, and ‘healing’ in his works of art. He titled the last exhibition of Savina Museum of Contemporary art of 2016 as Reflections to focus more on human feelings. The title can be interpreted as ‘mirroring’ and ‘introspection’ also.


Sadness which is placed in the entrance of the exhibition hall is a modified sculpture of the most representative Buddhist sculpture from the three Kingdoms period during 6-7th century, called Pensive Bodhisattva, Korean national treasure No. 83. KIM changed Buddha’s well-known iconic images as unperturbed mind, nirvana, and transcendence into sadness and agony in this sculpture. While this portrays the universal feeling of sadness and images of a human who is suffering from a restless mind, KIM talks about the weight of life that no one can be break free of.


The artist created Brain known as an organ that controls the human’s body and feelings. The Brain is made up of chains to represent a restriction of emotions. This chain-brain looks quite heavy but is put on the faded scale in a weightless state. This shows the brain is free from the law of gravity, because KIM believes that the human feelings and the weight of life are cannot be measured.


Another work Reflection consists of a well filled with black water, and heavy chains consistently going up and down into the well. In Reflection, KIM represents the wavering mind of a human through the chains that symbolizes suppression and restriction, as well as the surface of water which is swayed when the chains hit. Bricks that words were carved on are lining the well and these are also regarded as a symbol of the wavering mind. Since KIM’s first solo exhibition in 1995 until now, water has frequently appeared in his work symbolizing a life, a mirror reflecting oneself, and invisible transcendental energy. While Reflection shown in the first exhibition meant ‘mirroring’, Reflection of the day after 20 years can be considered ‘introspection’.


‘I am a prisoner of emotions. I should tell my story, forget and forgive myself. I can be free only with that.’ As Louis Bourgeois’s saying, Art is the way of communication between me and others as well as means to ease my emotional pain.

Artist Statement - Seung Young KIM


The pile of old bricks (looks as if hauled up from the bottom of the well) on the second floor is also another part of Reflection. The pile of emotions seen through prison bars can be viewed as if a prisoner locked behind the bars, or gold bars that are kept in a safe. Walking into the prison, the fragmented emotions suggest viewers to look back on their lives (emotions). Eventually, people can never feel free from various emotions such as sadness, wounds, jealously, and desires which they experience in their relationships. Nonetheless, the emotions become energy to lead our lives as well as motivation for artists to create art even though the emotions confuse our minds. In He opened the door and went out installed on the second floor, a magnetic needle of a compass is consistently moving to find the directions. The compass seems to represent that the unstable human life is a journey to find oneself.


A wall which has a crevice is blocking a stairway to a basement floor. This unexpected and confronted wall gives viewers a sense of embarrassment and discomfort. At the same time, it makes people to peep through the gap to see the exhibition hall over the wall. Another work Sweep seen through the crevice consists of sound and shabby hardwood floor boards illuminated by a light. The work turns viewers’ visual experience into aural experience. Through the sweeping sound from the dark, old, and shabby space where seems to creak, viewers may interpret the sound as sweeping remains of emotions in the deep down inside their minds.


KIM carved diverse emotions and events that we experience in our modern lives as a word in the old bricks. Using the bricks, he created the well occupying the whole floors of the exhibition, built the wall, and placed a pile of the fragmented bricks that looks as if collapsed. These works encourage viewers to bring out their suppressed feelings and continue to conflict and reconcile with the emotions. Seung Young KIM focuses on each individually and socially experienced emotions such as pains, sufferings, fears, sadness, etc. With his compassionate heart, KIM consistently builds his own area while dismantling and assembling objet, sound, natural objects, etc. Every given space to him in exhibitions has been changed into the other objects and this exhibition as well. His unique way of installation harmonizes the artworks with the spaces. Consequently his experiences are conveyed as universal feelings to viewers giving them the energy of the spaces.

  —Jaehyun Kang, Chief Curator at the Savina Museum of Contemporary Art  

Savina Museum of Contemporary Art