Kim Gil-hu could be a swordsman who wields a long sword in the air or a dancer who unfolds a breathtaking performance. If there is a difference between a swordsman, a dancer, and Kim, it is only whether one leaves a trace or not. A swordsman or dancer shows action but leaves no mark. As an artist, Kim leaves traces of his action with the paintbrush. As such, Kim can be likened to a shaman who performs a powerful and magnificent dance ritual with a paintbrush. He dances ecstatically with the brush, attempting to summon the spiritual energy of ancient times that has long been lost. He serves as a shaman who brings art’s function of healing to life today through his artistic invocation.
Kim’s works are instantly animated once his keen single stroke touches them, whether they are flat paintings or three-dimensional installations. The process of them coming to life is truly a marvel. Once Kim’s flat 15cm brush heavily soaked in black paint brushes over the surface of the canvas, an apocalyptic image of death emerges immediately, like dark red blood spouting from a decapitated neck at the slash of a sharp sword. It is a moment of high tension. The moment he paints, his shudders from the thought of blood surging from the head takes over his entire body and brings him to a state of hypertension. Recall here that the radical (indexing component of Chinese characters) of the Chinese character for stroke (劃, huà) is knife (刀, dāo). Then what Kim holds in his hand is not a brush, but a metaphorical knife. He uses this “knife” to make a single slash (or single stroke) on the canvas. For this reason, Kim’s painting is, in a sense, the process of killing and the result of death. The aesthetic of coming to life through death! Kim Gil-hu stands right there, at the center of the slaughter scene, as the executor and witness.
- Excerpt from “Art as Medium of Healing” | Jin Sup Yoon (Art Critic)