Priest and painter Kim Tae-won, 67, holds a retrospective titled “the 15th exhibition” from November 13 to 19 at Gallery Won in Gangnam, Seoul. The exhibition brings together about 100 paintings the artist has produced for the last 40 years, including drawings and copper paintings from his student days in Paris, oil paintings since 1995 and lacquer paintings since 2006.
“Human limits 1, 2” depict a world that sometimes becomes a flower bed and other times a battle field. “I painted the duplicity of human nature – the ability to vent anger but also do good. Some people associate red with blood, which is understandable. But that was not my intention,” said the priest. “I tried to show various feelings and emotions that humans have and express.”
It was in 1979 when he was studying theology in France that he was more exposed to artworks and fell in love with painting, which seems like a natural progression for someone who enjoyed painting as a kid.
“Priests can also be painters,” he said. “I constantly found myself intrigued by the paintings on the street when I was taking theology classes and then ended up studying at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.”
Priest Kim started drawing lacquer paintings after moving to Wonju, Gangwon province. He was first introduced to lacquer painting by Bishop John Chang-yik in 1995 when he became a head priest of Pungsuwon Catholic Church. He learned the skills by reading books by the likes of Living Human Treasure Kim Sang-su and Prof. Kwon Sang-o of Silla University.
He first creates a board by applying a mixture of burlap, charcoal powder and ocher on a ginkgo board, and then uses pigmented lacquer powder to paint. It helps artworks last longer, he says.
The priest and painter told me about his love for humanity. “Respect for life and love for humanity is the theme shown across all my paintings,” said Kim. “I would like to share my paintings with other people to spread the love.”
Min Kim email@example.com