Kim Kulim

Death of Sun II

Kim Death Of The Sun Ii Nmca Seoul 1500 - © Kim Kulim
  • Kim Kulim
  • Death of Sun II
  • 1964
  • Oil and object on wood panel
  • 91 x 75.3 cm
  • National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea - © Kim Kulim

Kim Kulim’s Death of Sun II (1964) comprises a sheet of thick black vinyl stretched over a shimmering black base. On this vinyl sheet are a series of small plastic washers, which the artist has painted black and set alight, so as to melt and fuse them onto the surface of the panel. Using petrol, Kim then outlined the perimeter of a large circle, which he also set on fire; resulting in an undulating surface of variegated textures. Beyond purely material concerns, this work speaks of the changes taking place within his country after the Korean War (1950–53). His use of destructive processes to create Death of Sun II points to the physical and societal destruction that both North and South Korea experienced during the war and to the peninsula’s subsequent division, which, like this work, resulted in an uneven and unstable topography of contradictory elements.

Damian Lentini

Biography of Kim Kulim

  • Born 1936 in Sangju, North Gyeongsang Province, Korea
Kim Kulim, known as Korea’s first avant-garde artist, has worked in film, light, performance, and land art, often stretching the limits of a given medium. Primarily self-taught, he moved to New York after he dropped out of college and became involved with the Art Students League of New York, participating in a number of group exhibitions. Back in Korea, he held his first solo exhibition in 1958 at Daegu Information Center, and soon expanded his artistic practice beyond painting. In the 1960s Kim began to emphasize the materiality of painting in a radical way. For his artistic “deconstructions” he often used burned plastics, vinyl, and metal bits alongside oil paint. He incorporated ready-made objects in his painted canvases, created installation art, and staged performances. He played a leading part in several artist collectives (Painting 68, A.G. Group, The Fourth Group) and brought many firsts to the Korean art world. He filmed Korea’s first experimental movies Munmyeong, Yeoja, Don (Civilization, Woman, Money, 1969); and 1/24 (Cho) ui Uimi (The Meaning of 1/24 Second, 1969), staged the nation’s first body painting performance, initiated the first Korean mail art Maeseu Midieo ui Yumul (The Relics of Mass Media, 1969), and was responsible for Korea’s first examples of land art Chujeog e Hyeonsang Eseo (From Phenomenon to Traces, 1970).

More artworks by Kim Kulim in the exhibition

Kim Three Circles Collection Of The Artist 1500 - © Kim Kulim
Kim Kulim
Three Circles, 1964
Courtesy the Artist