Video Interview: Kim Hyunji’s Mirror Stage

It’s difficult not to be intrigued by the mysterious people in Kim Hyunji’s portraits. Her work celebrates the diversity of Australian culture, which is very different to her home country of South Korea. “I was impressed by the diversity in Australia, because Korea is a single-nation country.” Mostly, Kim paints her own friends and contemporaries. Each portrait is a long process, from conception through to completion, since she begins by conducting a photoshoot to produce the images to base her paintings off. “Including the time doing the photoshoot, and sketching, it took me about a month.”

artist painting on mirror paper

Kim uses mirror paper as a surface.

Kim has only been in Australia for 4 years, but in that time she’s been busy building her art career. “I studied in art school in Korea for a year, but my father got a business in Western Australia, so I came to Australia… and then studied at Curtin University.” From there, she began to build her career with solo exhibitions in Perth, before moving to Melbourne “to meet more artists” and be a part of Australia’s art hub.

flyer for upcoming show

Kim’s next show is at Backwoods Gallery, from September 15-October 1.

Since coming to Melbourne, she’s had more shows, with one coming up in September at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood. The exhibition will be called ‘Mirror Stage’, and will feature new work painted on reflective surfaces, such as mirror paper and glass. Opening night is the 15th, and it will run until the 1st of October, so if you’re in Melbourne, don’t miss it!

Kim’s solo exhibition features work painted on reflective surfaces.

Kim filled us in about the themes of the show, and why she chose the reflective mediums. “Using the glass and mirror paper is an attempt to play with concept and symbolism. Glass allows for the visibility of the surface on which the painting hangs. The mirror paper is even harder to ignore – our reflections are always present.”

Kim hopes to one day use her palettes as a feature in a show.

Inspiration for Kim’s portraits come from social media, and the way people use it as a tool to craft a persona. For the current series, she drew inspiration from her own experiences in viewing artworks.

“Sometimes, you find yourself going to a gallery, but when it’s framed you see your reflection on the artworks. It’s very distracting for the viewer, but I wanted to use that idea.”

artist at desk

Kim’s takes all of her own source photos.

While completing her studies, Kim was painting in a hyperrealistic style. However, as she progressed in her work, she sought to show the difference between painting and photography. Now, her work explores the gap between the two. Her choice of colour palette, which builds upon her earlier fascination with bruises, extends her work beyond recreations of photographs.

In the future, Kim hopes to explore the art scene in Europe, particularly in Berlin. A visit to her home country is among her goals, but mostly she’s just set on travelling.

See the video of our visit below and make sure to check out Kim’s Bluethumb profile!

Bluethumb Semi-finalists in the Doug Moran Portraiture Prize

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