Cheolyu Kim Solo Exhibition
Redbase Art Gallery proudly presents Cheolyu Kim’s solo exhibition, organised in association with the artist’s residency at the gallery. Presenting works from South Korea, Journey to Nowhere explores the artist’s neo-surrealist conception of fantasy and metamorphosis through a visual narrative of dreaming the hero’s journey.
Should dreamers be asked when, where and how did they arrive and depart their dreams, almost certainly a scant response is proffered that one has only but the faintest recollection: the subconscious after all knows neither its beginning nor its end and being without entry nor exit wanders in the realm of timeless nowhere. Nowhere however is both a moment and a destination. It is metaphysical and real; often fully realised before the cusp of self-discovery – a liminal juncture prior to a reveal. Countless dreamers therefore insist on one’s feeling of a strange but tangible journey: respite, self-reflection and liberation ascending during an experience into their own corner of nowhere. Who is therefore to say a collapsing of time and space does not birth a real presence and place? Are we not taught the cosmos was equally born from such?
In Space #106 (2022) and Universe #100 (2022) Kim collapses his chromatic palette to intensively focus on detailed composition, tonal gradients, and multiple perspectives. Distortional moiré clouds pattern interferences across cross-contour and cross-hatched lines, mapping otherwise infinite bending surfaces. The works are explorations evoking generative art and Argentinian Eduardo Mac Entyre, with curved undulating lines successively turning and vibrating on countless planes while emerging forms insist on self-contained geometric precision and sequenced movement. Lines become the medium for division and marking of form and space; the greatest adventure is to brutally have that line extend into the infinite.
Intersecting precision draftsmanship with geometric abstraction and figuration compose the remaining works of Kim’s exhibition. Intricate, schematic and formal, the collection of 4-panel drawings on birch Midsummer Day’s Dream (2020) nevertheless allude to the aestheticization of wonder, romance, humour and drama: the daydreamer slips into the woods of a psychedelic dream pregnant with eccentric flora, fauna, funga, intelligent life and architectonic monuments. Environmental fragility reconciling with technological and spiritual cultures motivate an alien mythology.
The series of works Journey to Nowhere (2015-18) also expresses futurism and science-fiction in the landscapes of dreams. Kim blurs the distinction between sculpture and drawing with three-dimensional geometry articulated onto two-dimensioned planes: Escher tessellations feasible in a world strange and impervious to Euclidean geometry pave a challengingly rare journey of enquiry perhaps precisely because time and space is questioned. Conjuring feelings of isolation with a fraught excitement for adventure, hope and wonder, the works ask: who manufactures journeys? And how do they know where the beginnings and ends should reside?
Cheolyu Kim’s practice is entirely devoted to archival pen drawing on either paper or wood. The artist’s “outer-space fantasies” is informed by a childhood raised in a 16-household village at the DMZ border between North and South Korea. Surrounded by mountains and clear night skies that young child saw strange objects journeying to and from nowhere: thousands of balloons often mysteriously emerge overnight carrying foreign and enigmatic propaganda; on one occasion a spy plane from a foreign land dropped and crashed from the skies. Kim holds an MFA in Sculpture from Brooklyn College-University of New York and a BFA in Sculpture from Chung-Ang University of Seoul, South Korea.
– Joe Zhang