Spiritual prisms – Shin Il Kim

At Riccardo Crespi Gallery, in Milan.

Last week, us of WoMA had the chance to visit the opening of the exhibition Observing that Gap at Riccardo Crespi Gallery, which showcased the works by the young South Korean artist Shin Il Kim. Born in 1971 in Seul, Shin Il Kim studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and works within a vast range of genres. In occasion of his solo show, he presented a series of works made using polycarbonate, a material that often appears in his production, as well as some sculptures and video installations that focus on light as the main element giving substance and life to the work.

Stepping into the gallery, which is situated in a nineteenth century building at the heart of Milan, the visitors find the first pieces of the show made with polycarbonate A Man and About Art and Life, as well as the sculpture Mind ISM Belief. Through these works, Shin Il Kim makes reference to Buddhist philosophy, and more precisely to the practice of analytical mediation, in order to encourage the viewers to look at the world in a more conscious and participatory way.

Shin Il Kim

Between the first and underground floor, there is a sort of mezzanine area where the works About Prudence, About Art and Life, About Concept are exhibited, all of which have also been made with polycarbonate set in white frames, collocated in space in such a way that the viewer can observe one work through the other. And it’s also through such disposition that the whole concept of “gap” in Shin Il Kim’s works is highlighted: “if things were connected to each other with no gap in between, we can neither tell something from others nor can we name anything. Things and gaps in between in fact exist together, and emptiness has its own role.”

Through this vast and comprehensive body of works, Kim invites the visitor to contemplate and study the space that emerges between the objects. According to the artist, this space is no less crucial than the objects themselves as without that space we would not be able to fully distinguish, identify and characterize them. This is especially true when something that usually comes unnoticed brings the sense to what we see. This void breeds the thinking, the diversity of thoughts, as each of us translates it through the prism of his or her individual experience.

Shin Il Kim

In the lower exhibition floor, the rest of the works are showcased, including sculptures, video and drawings on polycarbonate. Each piece is of a remarkable beauty and grace, especially the Light Beat series, which consists of drawings of hearts on polycarbonate that have been further complemented with a video installation simulating their beatings. Again, the artist departs from a reflection on the state of passivity and numbness of senses to create works of art capable of awakening our active awareness and consciousness of the world. The heart, which is an organ concealed to our sight, is here presented in its materiality against its perceived invisibility. And such sight raises infinite possibilities of being in an active space that can ultimately lead to spiritual growth and concern.

Sofija Savić, Natalia Barinova