Kim, Mi Kyoung
Kim, Mi Kyoung, Pure Ecstacy

Seo, Seong Rok (Professor of the College of Art at Andong National University)

Kim, Mi Kyoung scoops up the colors of nature. She paints the deep blue color of the serene sky, the crimson red color of peach flowers, the jade green color of clear lakes, and the yellow green color of spring buds. It is pretty amazing that we can enjoy the beauty of nature only by looking at the colors in her works. Undoubtedly, she deserves to be called 'a competent colorist.' Artists have used colors in their own ways. For example, Wassily Kandinsky who was deeply versed in music regarded colors in paintings as counterpoint in music. Vincent Van Gogh who had lived like a pilgrim expressed his attachment for earthly existences with colors. Franz Marc who was an expressionist revealed anxiety in our minds through colors. Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov who was infatuated in the flow of light described physical light beams with colors. On the other side, through colors, Kim, Mi Kyoung steps up to the spirit as bountiful as 'a well watered garden.' To her, colors are well buckets to draw up our spirits or mirrors to reflect on our minds. She sees beyond sight through the medium of colors. Her paintings give the viewers hearty welcomes like a colorful rainbow after a severe thunderstorm. They refresh the viewers who feel dull and gloomy. They make the viewers awake to the truth that the joy of life is always close to them. They disclose the viewers the other world filled with happiness, grace, and peace in contrast with the real world filled with sadness, frustrations, and uncertainty. The viewers are willing to savour momental pleasure under the illusion of the works of art.

Neat and clean look

Kim has covered the canvas with brilliant base colors, dry brush strokes, and beautiful Mother Nature. She does not have a magnificent physique, but she has a great tenacity to go her own way ignoring the unsteady trends of the art circle. I visited her studio and asked about her recent interests. "Once I saw wide landscapes, but now I can see the small parts, too." Her interests have moved from the abstract concepts to the concrete things. The older she was, the more she cherished the trivial things surrounding her. She gave a close look at tiny things and realized the truth that everything is valuable regardless of its size or appearance. She reveals 'the loved creatures' hidden around us, which she learned by experience. Her works of art purify our souls. They feel like the fresh air in a thick forest. They appease and refresh the viewers. The artist carefully weighs every small part of her paintings. The brilliant colors in the center harmonize with the sedate color in the background. They make a neat and clean look. They remind me of a green field covered with fresh grasses or a red mountain looking like a shy girl's cheek.  The main colors and their background perform a symphony in color. They embrace each other as the sky and mountains or the wind and trees. She intentionally avoids dexterous techniques and 'boldly' manages the whole canvas instead. The perfect naturalness of a fish swimming in current fills up the rectangle canvas. It results from the artist's clever mixing of spontaneity and artificiality. The lump of colorful pigments in the center is made up by the random process. The method is original with her. She puts the pigment mixed with turpentine in the center the canvas and moves it by hand upward and downward or from side to side. She also blots or adds the pigments. The lightly-painted pigment with some tiny particles is supported by the sticky liquid. It has an unique effect. Her sensitivity to colors should be highly praised. Actually, Mi Kyoung is not a deliberate planner. She only fixes up rough outlines and then selects colors off the cuff. She repeatedly paints over the canvas with much more brilliant colors. Her emotions are unfolded with colors. She shouts for joy. The beautiful riffles of emotion run so slow as to be easily seen through. She confessed that she began to take an interest in colors by chance. When she returned home after giving a lecture in Gangreung, a scarlet persimmon held her gaze on a countryside road. It was 'a ggachibab (a meal for magpie; the generous Korean farmers traditionally left a few of persimmons on the top of the tree as treats for magpies).' She was struck by the beautiful natural color, and after then she has been immersed in colors in earnest. Last 20 years, Kim has researched colors and their variations. Surely, she is expert in colors. She took up another challenge to colors a few years ago. She has changed the main material into pigments and maximized the effect of turpentine. (However, she still uses oil colors on the boundary of the canvas to make a thick texture background.) When I interviewed the artist, I asked about the reason why she recently used more brilliant base colors. She answered that she moved from the metropolitan Seoul to the rural area of Opo, Gyeonggi-do in 2004. Her studio is surrounded with a thick forest, chirping birds, and various herbs. After escaping from the grey city, she has been invigorated by both lilies and jujube trees in her small garden and wild flowers and leafy vines in front of the house. In the nature, the second act of her painting art just began. She feels younger and more energetic. She expects to accomplish better works in Opo for herself.

Fruits of delight Kim's canvases are brimming over with such emotions at high tide as hope, gratitude, and joy. It might be difficult for those who have never experienced powerful emotions to understand her keen aesthetic sense. She rapidly represents a thrill running through her veins as she watched the creatures admiring their creator. She successfully portrays the beauty and majesty of the divine world with heavenly but sensible colors, unconventional but graceful shapes, and simple but powerful compositions. We can discover 'the mark of sanctity' and 'the flame of glory' by looking at the creatures of the god. John Calvin said, "The exquisitely created world mirrors our god." Likewise, artists regard the nature not only as a living thing or an artistic object but also as 'an living work of art' which was gracefully made by the god. Therefore, we have to look at all the things around us more carefully. Mi Kyoung succeeds to feel the pure ecstasy in the nature. She tries to reproduce 'the mark of sanctity' with beautiful colors. Also, she expresses in awe the magnificent world that was exquisitely created by the god. She has so good spiritual eyes that she can see beyond sight. Her works exhibit the rare beauty of contemplation and loftiness.