Prints on display: Exploring the surreal – An Otherworldly Creature

Kim says her work aims to inspire people to create back stories for the pieces

Amel Ghani July 07, 2015
Kim’s Sleep Well My Baby on display at the gallery. PHOTO: PRESS RELEASE


“I draw inspiration from nature,” artist Hyun Ju Kim says, describing her work, An Otherworldly Creature, on display at Taseer Art Gallery.

The exhibition showcasing 28 works and will continue till July 14.

Australia-based Kim, who is currently working at the National College of Arts, did her masters in fine arts in 2006 from the Visva Bharti University in Shantinketan, India.

It was there that she chose print-making as her medium.

She has since exhibited works in England, Greece, India, Korea, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and now in Pakistan. Kim has used small needles to draw fine lines on plates which she then prints.

Kim says her art explores human form which is then transformed into symbols borrowed from the elements – they could be trees or animals.

One of her pieces, Sleep Well My Baby shows a monster carrying a child.

“At first glance, the viewer sees a monster with clawed feet, and a human face and hands…but then his or her gaze is drawn to the child the monster is clutching to its breast. That represents the monster’s kind heart.”

Kim believes that her travels have played an important role in shaping her work. She has travelled to over 10 countries, imprints of which can be found in her work.

One of her pieces titled Secret of the Well on display at the gallery showing an old derelict building uses lithography.

The well at the centre of the piece shows a creature which is part-human, part-tree and is covered in leaves. The idea was to add some life to an abandoned building, she says.

“I came across a lot of derelict buildings during my stay in Thailand and India…they appeared to be in ruins but carried vestiges of beauty and of life.”

She says she wants to trigger people’s imagination with her work.

“Whenever I’m working on a piece, I create a background story for the figures or objects that feature in them. I like it when people see the figures and create their own stories,” she says.

Kim says she has had visitors walk up to her and tell her stories for surreal images in her work.

Kim says that her favourite pieces in the collection are New Neighbours Visiting, and Laputa. “I worked really hard on these two pieces and they are very intricate,” she says.

Art critic Quddus Mirza says that Kim’s work reminds him of the possibilities of etching. “Most of the etchings I see in Pakistan incorporate a lot of effects and texture…Kim’s work is like an intricate drawing.”

Mirza says that Kim’s work does not use gimmickry but shows sensitively rendered images with fine lines.

Talking about the work thematically, he says it shows a merging of the metaphysical and physical. “Parts of it have been derived from things observed in her surroundings while others have been created from her imagination.”

Commenting on An Otherworldly Creature exhibit, Zainab Siddiqui, curator of the Taseer Art Gallery, says for her, each of the pieces reads like a page from a dream journal.

“With every image, her symbols morph and develop into new beings,” she says.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.