pic. 1. 5-IV-71 #200 Universe (60 x 240 cm) by Whanki Kim. - Oil on Canvas

Kim Whanki (1974) was a painter and pioneering abstract artist of Korea. Kim belongs to the first generation of Korean Abstract artists, mixing oriental concepts and ideals with abstraction. Kim's early works were semi-abstract paintings which allowed viewers to see certain forms, but his later works were more deeply absorbed abstract paintings, filled with lines and spaces. 

pic. 2. Jar and Flowers (1949) by Whanki Kim. - Oil on Canvas. 
Whanki's ability to distill form and colour into their essential abstract elements has forged a distinctive aesthetic that I've continually drawn inspiration from. My initial encounter with his work was during the preparation of my portfolio in Seoul, as I aimed to enrol in a university in the UK. Guided by a brilliant art teacher, I delved into presenting classes and developing a profound understanding of artists and movements, delving not only into their artistic techniques but also exploring the social and political influences of their era. This holistic approach to contextualising art and design deeply influenced me, becoming a cornerstone of my own creative endeavours.

For the New Realism Group's second exhibition held in 1949, Kim submitted his painting Jar and Flowers <백자와 꽃> (1949) (see pic.2). This is also one of my favourite paintings by him. The work, in which a piece of white porcelain is rendered as a round abstract geometric form, is considered to be one of the earliest examples from Kim's oeuvre in which he employs pottery as a significant motif for which he received critical acclaim. As a motif in Kim's paintings, Korean pottery was employed as an aesthetic solution for reconciling tradition with modernity.

These paintings (see pic.3 and pic. 4) are a masterpiece of Kim Whanki's mature period, when he had perfected his lyric idiom of pure colour and cadenced pattern.Unlike most colourists working in acrylics, Kim used oil paint greatly thinned with turpentine, working it like ink and keeping it level with the picture plane. The palette is predominately blue, a metaphor Kim adapted from Korean poetry to mean the moon or a mountain or to conjure the vastness of space. The large canvases of the 1970s have been seen as positive meditations on the universe in which curves and lines intersect without conflict within a canopy of colour. Kim has described himself as a man at home with the stars and the dots in his paintings as "memories of a million things."
pic.3. 2-V-73 #313, 1973 by Whanki Kim. - Oil on Canvas (left)
pic.4. Untitled 19-VI-71, 1971 by Whanki Kim. - Oil on Canvas (right)

pic. 5. Untitled 19-VI-71, 1971 by Whanki Kim. - Oil on Canvas (right)

pic.6. Drawing of Kim Whanki ⓒWhanki Foundation · Whanki Museum

Moon, Plum Blossom and Bird (1959)

Mountain (1955)

Mountain and Moon (1964)

Song of Eternity (1957)

Moon on Mountain (1964)

Other Images: https://www.artnet.com/artists/kim-whanki/6