Sung Kyo Kim’s
‘EAST MEETS WEST : Chinese characters meet pop-art’
‘EAST MEETS WEST: Chinese characters meet pop-art’
is a new exhibition by Korean-Australian artist Sung Kyo Kim who astutely bridges Asian and Western cultures. His richly coloured and textured paintings combine the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy with bright, pop-art imagery in innovative ways. Sung explains:
‘Nowadays, the Chinese language is very important as well as English and I hope that Australian viewers – including Chinese, Japanese and Koreans – will be inspired by my paintings, particularly the next generation. I want my art to be for Asian and Western people alike.
Sung, who lives and works in Brisbane, was born in the Republic of Korea and moved to Australia in 1988. For 25 years he worked as a draftsman and structural designer, mostly for mining design companies in Queensland. More recently, after gaining a BA in Fine Art from Curtin University, Sung has re-focused full-time on his art practice. His newest works, titled Prosperous Business, are inspired by his long links to the mining industry and express a wish for its prosperity.
HERITAGE OF CALLIGRAPHY
Sung’s main influences include his heritage of calligraphy from an early age, through primary school and into later life, combined with an interest in bright colour that grew more recently and in various ways. His artistic talents, however, stretch back to his ancestors,something he recognised early on, beginning at primary school. Twenty years ago he learnt hyukpilhwa from a Korean master-artist, and 40 years of design and drafting are reflected in his artworks.
‘My painting’, Sung says, ‘is based on Korean folk art including beautiful Chinese characters that are reinterpreted with a pop-art style’.
His art links to hyukpil, a genre of Korean folk painting called minhwa, dating back to the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220AD). Chinese characters are essentially ideograms of stories, and hyukpil transforms parts of the character to incorporate symbols which correspond to the character’s meaning. For example: a crane symbolises longevity; a carp, success; a butterfly, joy; and a peony, wealth..
The main point of Sung’s paintings in ‘EAST MEETS WEST’ are the meanings of the characters he uses. In one painting, for example,he incorporates a symbol that means ‘good luck’. The painting therefor ‘expresses the wish for good luck to an owner who is happy to hang it on the wall’, he says. ‘I always feel happy with flowers, butterflies and fishes, especially when I look at my paintings in the early morning. Most East Asian people get the same feeling and I want to share this.’Sung’s paintings, Good Luck; Love; Peace in the Family; Longevity, Good Health and Wellbeing, are examples of this style.
Sung Kyo Kim’s