Haeyum - Hyunah Kim

Haeyum - Hyunah Kim



Haeyum – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 72 x 60″ (183 x 152cm)

California based abstract artist Hyunah Kim on communicating beyond language, selling art online and the wonder of her cat…

Can you talk about your latest series of works and your approach to nonrepresentational art?

I prefer nonrepresentational art to realism/representational art. It is because I am not a realistic person, but an ideological person. I believe that what’s happening in the world is important but I tend to focus more on what’s happening within human beings.

‘Human beings are bound by language’. As the Swiss philosopher Saussure said, ‘What cannot be said with language is because one cannot think’, I believe that the medium of ‘language’ must be abandoned in order to reach true inner freedom. To me, the images used in Realism are like ‘words’ used in a language.
I think that words are too direct, so I think ‘color’ can replace such a medium.

You don’t have to explain what you see with words. It suffices to just sensually ‘see and feel’ what is seen. A color is like any word with an unspecified or undefined permanence. With the waves evoked by colors, I believe we can communicate beyond language.

Drawing letters, symbols, lines, patterns, and images with oil pastels and pencils is like a spice for the ‘taste’ of a painting’s composition. It is also the boundary line that comes into contact with ‘consciousness’. I hope that my paintings will be poetic – an intellectual game that activates thoughts through the act of seeing.

Sen Painting - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

Sen – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 36 x 36″ (91 x 91cm)

After selling more than 80 paintings on Saatchi Art how would you describe your experience on the platform?

I think Saatchi Art is a wonderful platform for all artists. Contacting a physical gallery for an exhibition can be very stressful and takes a lot of time, but Saatchi Art is a very helpful platform for an artist like me without much exhibition experience. It helps to take good quality photos of your work and upload them diligently, and use Instagram or other social media apps to advertise your work.

Esprit - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

Esprit – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 60 x 48″ (152 x 121cm)

How have commissions played a part in your practice?

As an emerging artist, I had to find a way to sell my artwork. So, I worked in two directions. In one, I was a little more focused on the design side so that I could make good copies for commissions at an affordable price. In the other, I tried to make more authentic artworks that aren’t possible to copy. I think because I work in two ways, I can balance out my way of selling the paintings at a wide range. There are specific artworks that I take commissions for which are relatively old works where I focus more on design quality. Nowadays, I focus on creating a more genuine type of art.

Naui - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

Naui – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 40 x 40″ (101 x 101cm)

‘I want a very ordered image, but I want it to come about by chance’ is a Francis Bacon line you’ve quoted. How do you create an environment for this to emerge – to ‘paint at the boundary between the conscious and the unconscious’?

I don’t like drawings that reproduce an object realistically. Rather, I want to approach abstract expressionism in a more impulsive way. So, when I start painting, I improvise, apply the color I want on the canvas with a paint knife, and follow the next step according to the location or feeling of that color to compose the overall composition. The process of unfolding and blending colors is a way of approaching the unconscious without rigidity. However, as the power of my consciousness works within that process, order gradually follows in the disorder, and intentional decorations (lines, dots, symbols, small images or patterns, etc.) are added as boundaries of consciousness.

In ore somnium Painting - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

In Ore Somnium – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 48 x 48″ (121 x 121cm)

Can you talk about the ‘greater courage’ it takes to stop adding to an artwork and how you know when a painting is finished?

When I said ‘it takes a greater courage to stop adding things that are necessary than by adding more things to express.’, it is not a story about all of my paintings, but a story about the blank series. In this series, I wanted to look deeply into inner ‘meditation’ and ‘quiet’ with a single mood while painting a base layer with oil paint. If the complex unconscious thoughts (or state) was expressed using acrylic textures, in “the blank”, oil paint was used to express the unconscious feeling of calm and melancholy… as if carefully speaking to the audience. If you express only as much as you talk, the painting is complete.

Haeyum II Painting - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

Haeyum II – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 72 x 60″ (182 x 152cm)

Any current artists you admire you’d like to point our readers to?

I like Masters like , Miró, Cézanne, and Rothko. But, I also like the works of Sojourner Truth Parsons, Gary KoMarin, Rose Wylie and Beatriz Simon.

Lila Traum Painting - Hyunah Kim


Buy Online

Lila Traum – Hyunah Kim

Acrylic painting, oil pastel, pencil on canvas. 40 x 40″ (101 x 101cm)

What’s a book, film, music or show you’ve enjoyed lately?

I don’t know if it helps but I am reading the books of Carl Jung since my subject matters are more about the unconsciousness. I am not a big fan of classical music but I listen to the pianist, Yunchan Lim a lot lately. The most recent show I went to is the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition in Los Angels. It was really inspiring and impressive. I loved it! And there is no film that I watched lately, but I probably should.

Bori the cat

Bori the cat

Lounging in Hyunah’s studio.

And finally, can you introduce us to the cat in your profile picture, how do they rate as a studio assistant?

I adopted my cat Bori (means Barely in Korean) when she was 4 and a half years old. Now she is 13. To be precise, she is not a studio assistant, she is more like a therapist. I spend lots of time in my studio (like all other artists), and whenever I lie down, Bori always lies with her back against my face, or sits on my arm and gives me peace with her soft fur. If she puts her fur on me like that, I can feel her little breath and warmth, it proves that I’m alive right in that moment. That moment is one of my greatest happiness.

Thanks so much to Hyunah for being so generous with her time to open a window on her work and practice. All paintings are available to purchase on Saatchi Art, follow Hyunah’s latest work on hyunahkim.com and Instagram.