You have to really get up close to truly appreciate the work of Seoul-based artist Ilhwa Kim. Her work is a spectacular example of contemporary Asian art blending sculpture with painting. Each piece is created through the meticulous process of hand dyeing, cutting and rolling of mulberry paper into uniqueÂ â€˜seedsâ€™. These seeds are then used in their hundreds and thousands to create intricate patterns. Â On an interview with Interlocutor she says this about her work: Â
â€œI take it for granted to categorize my work as a â€œsculpture,â€ not because of the appearance but because of the working process. In painting, basically the materials are given. However, in my process, all the materials begin from scratch and are â€˜â€˜sculptedâ€ from scratch in various ways. The paper itself has our studio-specific formula â€” how the paper has to be composed during its manufacture. Every single thing has its own unique process regarding dyeing material, cutting processes involving heavy machines, custom frames, etc.â€
â€œMany paper or textile artists finish their works in gradual steps based on the initial sketch. The process cannot allow sudden bold turns in the middle steps. My studio runs the process in a complete opposite way. In order to give complete freedom during the middle stages of production until completion, all paper units stay unglued until final stage. They can be rearranged or removed or height adjusted whenever needed. The process allows bold changes to be made even when we are very close to final stage.â€
Images: Courtesy of Ilhwa Kim.