Current Issue #488

Artist Profile: Jonathan Kim

Artist Profile: Jonathan Kim

Former business student Jonathan Kim made the switch from business to art just five years ago and he hasn’t looked back since.


Kim is currently undertaking the Helpmann Academy’s British School at Rome Residency, which he was awarded earlier this year at the Helpmann graduate exhibition along with the Linden New Art Award. Born in South Korea, Kim began his university studies there before moving to China where he completed a Bachelor of International Trade and Economy. He worked in China for a number of years, running his own business, before moving to Australia in 2008. Kim initially studied international business but decided he wanted a change in his career, eventually embarking on a degree in visual art.

Kim graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art (Sculpture) in 2017 and Honours in 2018, developing a practice that involves sculpture, installation and painting. “My sculpture usually consists of materials collected from everyday life,” Kim says. “My paintings incorporate traditional Korean design and have a tactile texture created using crayons and paper.”

Kim’s practice is heavily based on post-minimalist concepts. Before undertaking the residency in Rome, he was particularly focused on the Korean painting style Dansaekhwa and the sculptural concept of the Japanese Mono-ha artists. These movements focus on the interaction of objects with their environment rather than the artwork itself.

Kim’s practice encompasses a variety of materials

“The two art movements have limitations in terms of themes and materials due to regional characteristics of Mono-ha and Dansaekhwa,” Kim says. “To overcome this, I am currently researching the historical and theoretical background of the Italian Arte Povera movement and hope to adopt a new concept of spatiality into my practice.”

Kim has been exploring Rome by studying historical buildings and monuments as well as collecting materials from the street. Usually Kim works with materials that have a history or memory, but in Italy he has been collecting materials that have had a former use or are ready-made parts.

“While the medium and the processing of the artworks is the same as before, my paintings have adopted design and colour from Italian artwork, culture and environment,” Kim says.

Kim’s work is currently showing in the esteemed graduate exhibition Hatched at PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) until Sunday, July 7 and, following the Rome residency, which finishes at the end of June, he has a succession of exhibitions and residencies. He will be showing at Guildhouse and West Thebarton Gallery for SALA and his work will feature in Paper Contemporary at Sydney Contemporary in September. Kim will undertake the Sauerbier House culture exchange Artist in Residence (AiR) program at Port Noarlunga in October and will have an exhibition at FELTspace in February 2020.

It seems that Kim’s decision to change the path of his career was the right one with the artist experiencing a steady run of residencies and exhibitions since graduating, which looks set to continue into the future.

“I am really happy with my practice and my career, which I only started five years ago. Now I have finished my degree with honours and I have this amazing opportunity with the Rome residency. I’m very grateful.”

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