The Earth is little more than tiny speck in a gigantic drawing.
These words from the Korean artist Kim Eull (born 1954) aptly describe what his works are about, centred as they are on drawing, transmitted via a variety of genres such as objects, paintings and installations, in an attempt to give form to the contours of his deepest thoughts and ideas. For the artist, drawing is not just a form of art, it is also the attitude and the accompanying emotions which are transferred to the drawing.
Prior to the beginning of this intensive discussion of the issue, Kim Eull created thousands of self-portraits which lead to the Blood Map Series, focussing on forging identity and existentialism. Through the creation of a number of portraits, he discovered the thousands of bloodlines of his ancestors which flow into them. However, this issue quickly became too weighty for the artist. The turning point was a fire in which he lost approx. 400 of his portraits. Yet Kim Eull was not upset about the loss of the paintings, instead he felt it offered him the new start that he so craved, and led him away from the topic of self-portraits and into drawing.
The most important place for the realisation of his ideas is his studio, the Twilight Zone Studio. His own universe, marking an undefined zone between day and night, life and death, the spiritual and the material worlds and reality and perfection. This charged relationship and the contrast of extremes allows for objectivity. The artist must position himself so that he can consider things objectively, whereby he also feels as if he is physically inhabiting a kind of twilight zone. Two weeks prior to the exhibition opening, Kim Eull created a reconstruction of his studio in the gallery, with which he hoped to provide his audience with an authentic understanding of the creative process and his art. In the model, the artist displays a selection of his drawings and newly arranged objects.
Another theme is The Galaxy, first exhibited in 2016 at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, as part of the Korea Artist Prize for which Kim Eull was nominated. The Galaxy is an exhibition featuring 1450 drawings spread over an entire wall. The drawings symbolise the individual planets which combine to form a galaxy. The gallery displays a smaller, adapted version of this. Approx. 4000 drawings emerged between 2002 and 2008. In this context, drawing is considered to be a continuation of the processes of forging identity and self-discovery, which so far, according to the artist, are only half complete and continue until death. The drawings do not deal with a specific topic, Kim Eull draws whatever occurs to him spontaneously, sometimes it can be seemingly banal, sometimes elaborate. Recurring themes are life and death, as well as the self, often in the form of symbols showing skulls or tears.
The last of the artist’s themes is the Beyond the Painting series. The integrated windows in the paintings are intended to create a 3D effect. Generally, we regard an image as a surface; in this series Kim Eull poses the viewer a philosophical question: What’s under the surface? Why do we only wish to see the surface and nothing else? Is there another, unknown world behind this surface? The Controversial Paintings sit within a similar context, in which the idea of a fixed concept of painting is shattered by combining an image with objects and furniture. Curtains and drawers are intended to provoke the viewer to question what they wish to find behind them and inside them. Both series play with the traditional concept of painting, encouraging the viewer to form his or her own interpretation.
Kim Eull currently lives and works in Korea. He has published seven catalogues of his drawings as well as countless exhibitions.