(Graduated from Chugye University for the Arts, studied theology at ACTS and the Universtity of Munster,
working at the Nori-media Education Center)
“…Being able to rest, the possibility to returning into oneself means giving one to the base and lying down. Because this possibility may be
taken up by the consciousness, it belongs to consciousness in such a meaning. In the middle of life, the sleeping by returning to oneself is
performed in the consciousness of taking place. However, the taking place is an event where the moment as the present occurs” (Kang Young-An,
Levinas’ Philosophy-The face of Others, p.98.)
In the above quotation, the philosopher Levinas specified ‘rest’ as ‘sleep’, but I remembered the ‘chair’ of Kim Hyun-Young. In Kim Hyun-Young’s
works, the ‘chair’ is a symbol of ‘rest’. According to the interpretation of Kang Young-An, the author of the above book, Levinas understood ‘rest’
as a ‘consciousness rests’, an ontological condition for the establishment of the subject, and the median that he can return to his original position.
So it is argued that the true consciousness emerges from the rest.
In the works of artist Kim Hyun-Young, the ‘chair’ has been steadily appearing from the earliest works, and it can be said that it is derived from
the artist’s longing for ‘rest’. If the artist’s longing for ‘rest’ is based on Levinas’ philosophy, it may be the longing for self-existence,
furthermore standing up alone. This longing may be a desire for an escape from some sorts of anonymity based on multiple roles the artist, not
herself, wears as a mother, as a wife, and as a daughter-in-law like a reality in which her existence disappears.
The emotion ‘loneliness’ flowing smoothly in the artist’s work, was represented by an empty chair, a tangled thread, and a tree standing alone.
In the environment of the artist playing various roles at home with living three generations together, although there are always people around,
she is lonely. She needs her own space and time, and want to rest in there. She can find herself and get the power of returning to the anonymity
and playing roles by the rest. However, unfortunately, the chair in her work is always empty. There is no owner, and I just feel her eyes.
Artist Kim Hyun-Young, however, says that the owner of the chair is not necessarily herself. It only symbolizes ‘rest’ and reflects the willingness
to give it to others. In the work ‘healing’ series, she has already finished standing up alone, and according to Levinas’ expression she is in the
place of others beyond existence. The pain and wounds of others were begun to come into her sight, and she willingly wants to bind and heal them.
Here she not only gives chairs, she also uses blood stained bandages. Artist Kim Hyun-Young realize that people cannot sit in the chair oneself
from the experiences learned through her lonely and desperate struggle for ‘rest’. This is why even if a chair exists, it can only be empty. The
One who gave her rest, ultimately found herself, and healed her. In other words, it is the awareness of the Beyond Existence. Because artist Kim
Hyun-Young realized she could transcend herself by finding herself through the help of the beyond existence she met, the bloody bandage was
emerged as a symbol of the joyful and infinite love of the Existence in the healing series of her work. A number of dry tree branches, sometimes
all over the canvas, were wrapped by the bandages. From the beings close to the artist to the whole of humanity, she might have thought that they
needed the take-care and healing of the Special Being as a genuine ‘rest’ from the Special Being.
The artist Kim Hyun-Young suddenly recalled the days she went to church as a child. There was a church in front of her, and the road was far from
the child’s eyes. But she could not feel that it was hard, and she stepped on her way to church, she was crying, laughing, hurting and getting
comfort there, and then she realized the One, the Existence of the Absolut, who had been always with her in the whole of her life. ‘Here I am’ is
the manifestation of the Existence and the confession of the artist. It was about time that the image of the church began to appear in her works.
The narrow, winding road leading to the church, the thread and invisible graffiti… It is the moment that I understand the hidden stories in the
works of the artist Kim Hyun-Young.
The artist’s recent work is more colorful and various. The color is bright and the loneliness is disappeared. Besides I can feel even a sense of
stability. In the flower bed that looks like a ship, dry branches are no longer and bright flowers and green plants are growing in abundance. Even
on a big tree, the flowers bloomed, and the objet and sketches that were attached are interesting. It is a meaning that I can peep into it as a
However, her work is still painful. The tangled threads with a wire from her recent works, scribbles from early works, and white paints flowing
like rain; they are going to continue. In particular, the paints are more often appearing on the empty chair or in lonely-looking scenery. When I
asked what this is, the artist replied with ‘grace’. She said the pain was not only the artist’s own. Seeing the continuous pain in our society
or in the global village, although she doesn’t understand it, the One’s grace will surely permeate and bloom. Her works are just the confession.