Bo Kim

Bo Kim(BHAK)

Bo Kim uses natural elements that eventually wither and vanish with time as her art materials and tools, and she also speaks on “reason and logic” that cannot transcend time and gravity. Through the grids in the non-sculptural series where she layers hanji on the edges and surface of the canvas, Kim reflects on the trace of time, natural deterioration and extinction that does not counter the course of nature, and accumulation.

Bo Kim graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a degree in fine art. Kim shows the process and result of her enlightenment from the beauty of “impermanence” discovered in natural order and Buddhist teachings. The artist’s study on impermanence began when she noticed that pieces of plaster had fallen off from one of her works. The fragments that fell off became a part of the original artwork, as they aligned with the artist’s visualization of the concept of impermanence in Buddhism. Kim collects objects in nature that transform over time and integrates them into her work. Time-specific images she collected are the main resource for visualization in her paintings. The act of painting on the first layer of hanji (Korean mulberry paper) represents her recording of vivid memories from that day, and the colors applied on the paper gradually soften and lighten as they seep in over time. Bo Kim seeks to create a relaxing and solemn space where she can invite viewers to meditate and engage in a moment of introspection with her.

Bo Kim collects objects from nature that change over time and integrates them into her work. Her early series titled Impermanence was created by spreading a mixture of sand, plaster, oil paint, and acrylic paint on canvas with a window screen over it, and then removing the screen. When the screen was removed from the canvas, pieces of the applied mixture fell off with it, which the artist kept as a part of the work as a representation of the beauty of impermanence. This exhibition also presents paintings made with materials from nature. The theme of imperfection was adopted again, but the window screen was replaced with the act of layering hanji, paint, and sand on the canvas. Kim wrapped and conserved the remnants of nature-derived materials with hanji to reflect the aesthetics of ever-changing nature’s impermanence. Bo Kim’s new works point out that our consciousness unconsciously searches for something eternal, even when we know that everything in the world will not cease to change.

Bo Kim
2017-18 Rhode Island School of Design, RISD, Providence, RI 2017-18 Master of Art in Teaching
2013-17 Bachelor of Fine Arts — Painting
2022 ‘Impermanence’, BHAK, Seoul, Korea
2021 ‘When Light is Put Away’, BHAK, Seoul, Korea
‘Embracing the Moment’, Gallery Ilho, Seoul, Korea
‘Surface of Calmness’, H Contemporary Gallery, Sungnam, Korea
‘Beauty of Imperfection’, Gallery DOS, Seoul, Korea
2020 ‘HPIX x BO KYUNG KIM’, HPIX Dosan, Seoul, Korea
2022 ‘Korea International Art Fair (KIAF)’ w/ BHAK, Coex, Seoul, Korea
‘Mindfulness’ Villa de Parnell, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do
‘Lotte Art Fair Busan’ w/ BHAK, Signiel Hotel, Busan, Korea
2021 ‘Korea International Art Fair (KIAF)’ w/ BHAK, Coex, Seoul, Korea
‘Art Busan’ w/ Art & Choi’s, BEXCO 1, Busan, Korea
2020 ‘Asia Hotel Art Fair (AHAF)’ w/ BHAK, Central Musem, Seoul, Korea
‘Korea International Art Fair (KIAF)’ w/ BHAK, KIAF Online Exhibition
‘K Auction 2020 Charity + Premium Auction’ K Auction, Seoul, Korea
‘LA Art Show’ w/ Young Art Gallery, Los Angeles Convention Center, LA, US
‘Encountering Dream’ Gallery Ilho, Seoul, Korea
2019 ‘SEEA 2019’ Special Exhibition for Emerging Artists, Seongnam Arts Center, Seongnam, Korea
‘Cynosure – KAPA International Art Competition Winners Exhibition’, BT Gallery, Seoul, Korea
‘Along With’, Young Art Gallery, Daejeon, Korea
‘Redolent’, Punto Blu, Seoul, Korea
‘Accessing’ (Exhibition within Exhibition), Kor-Jap Cultural Exchange Exhibition ETTEDA, ArtArch, Seoul
‘Korea Young Artist Exhibition’, Artspace H, Seoul, Korea
‘Artist Statement #4’, CICA Museum, Kimpo, Korea
2018 ‘Present from the Past’, VETS Gallery, Providence, RI (~2019)
‘Heritage’, L’espace71, Seoul, Korea
2017 ‘Flora Fauna’, The Nature Lab, Providence, RI 2017 ‘Letizia’, Memorial Hall, Providence, RI
‘Senior Degree Project Show’, Woods-Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI
2016 ‘Painting Department Exhibition’, Woods-Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI
2014 ‘Foundational Studies Drawing Exhibition’, Waterman Building, Providence, RI
2022 Grants for Young Represented Artists — Korea Arts Management Service
2021 Grants for Young Represented Artists — Korea Arts Management Service
2019 Guangzhou International Art Fair — Young Artist Award
KAPA International Art Competition Award — Grand Prize awarded by NJ City Council
2018 RISD Fellowship (2017~18)
2015 Honors, RISD Honors Student Academic Award
2013 Gold Medal, National Exhibition of Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Curator: Sungah Serena Choo & Artist: Bo kim


Q. In the attitude you pursue toward the course of nature, do you focus on “phenomena” or the visuality of media that you work with? Please elaborate on how and where your work begins.
I focus on both, the way my work process looks and the visuality of the media I use. Plaster powder is water soluble, so this quality clashed with the nature of oil paint when I worked with these two materials. When I applied the mixture on the canvas and then removed the window screen from it, chunks of this coarse mixture fell off, and paint remained on parts of the canvas like grid-patterned stains. I picked up the canvas and had it stand against the wall, and noticed later that small fragments had fallen off from the canvas over time. Rather than perfectly retouching the parts that lost the plaster-sand-paint mixture, I decided to accept the fallen pieces as a natural process and beauty, and drew attention to the traces left behind.


Q. What criteria do you use in selecting and using objects and materials that disappear?
In early two-dimensional series, I focused on the phenomena of things not maintaining permanence and changing with the passage of time, rather than depicting how the physical material of plaster powder disappears. Then, I started using material that can return to nature more easily. I even made works with ice to use material that shows the change of time most dramatically and directly.


Q. Let’s go back to your works from 2016. In Impermanence series, the thickness of the grid layer was apparent, but in your recent works, it looks like you’re more focused on repetitive presentation of the grid in the overall composition.
Grids result from the use of window screens. The nature of plaster powder creates thickness in texture. In the meantime, in the process of stacking thin, delicate, and both transparent and opaque sheets of hanji (traditional Korean mulberry paper), a sense of impermanence emerges, while the colors of each layer overlap from the repetition of hanji collage, brushstrokes, and the use of sand. As for the grid on hanji, I was inspired by the windows and doors of hanok I saw when I visited Buddhist temples and the Andong Hanok Village.


Q. In Aging (2022), the title itself reveals your notion of accumulation, natural decline and extinction that do not resist time. Ironically, as time passes, things deteriorate, but while they do, there are intangible and invisible things that accumulate on the reverse side. How are these contrasting course of nature and sensibilities conveyed in the process of your work?
I am always in search of the imperfect beauty that emerges in the process of trying to reach perfection (cutting hanji into identical sizes and layering them). In making Aging, I take photos of wood grains, print them out, paint over them, layer them with hanji, and cover with sand. In this repetitive process, soil naturally falls off and creates a pile.


Q. Titles like Silent Night, Scent of Rain, Summer Rain Shower, and Lingering Aroma, Spring serve mediating roles of helping us recognize senses of smell, sound, and touch in the abstraction you create and explore. Did these titles, which point to specific things, derive from personal moments that helped you start your work?
Last year, I worked on a project where I took square photos of the sky and wrote journal entries along with them just before bed (when light is put away), “engraving” the emotions, thoughts, and events of that day. While my earlier series implied that I used colors inspired by nature, works that constitute When Light is Put Away series directly express my personal feelings and thoughts from the moment of inspiration