The Korea Herald


Rooted in Korean traditional painting, Kim Bo-hie captures beauty of Jeju Island

By Park Yuna

Published : June 18, 2023 - 17:58

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An installation view of Kim Bo-hie's paintings An installation view of Kim Bo-hie's paintings "Leo" at Gallery Baton in Seoul (courtesy of the gallery)

Painter Kim Bo-hie's solo exhibition at the Kumho Museum of Art in 2020 drew a huge crowd after her paintings went viral on social media. People formed long lines just to get into the museum in search of some comfort from her work, which depicts the nature of Jeju Island. The exhibition earned her popularity among a wider audience.

In the latest exhibition, “Towards,” at Gallery Baton in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, the 71-year-old artist introduces her newest paintings that portray not only the peaceful landscapes of Seogwipo, Jeju Island, where she’s based, but also the things she observes around her, like her companion dog, a Labrador retriever named Leo.

After the artist moved her studio to Seogwipo, the island's nature and everyday features surrounding her have become a primary subject in her paintings. Kim has a small garden at her studio, which is full of trees and shrubs, including palm trees that are commonly seen on the island.

Kim has noted that, as an artist, she is greatly influenced by her surroundings when it comes to what she wants to paint.

"Beyond" by Kim Bo-hie (Gallery Baton)

In bringing these objects to life in her paintings, she creates a unique atmosphere by using a traditional Korean painting technique.

Kim sticks to using pigments mixed with gelatin and water, inspired by traditional Korean painting. Since the water-based Korean color ingredients do not work perfectly on the canvas, unlike acrylic or oil paint, she repeatedly layers the pigments to allow the colors to permeate into the canvas. As a result, her paintings have a warm and subdued feeling.

"Towards" by Kim Bo-hie (Gallery Baton)

The way Kim paints also reflects how she was influenced by Korean traditional painting. Her landscape paintings are based not only on the things she sees, but also on her imagination, just like the Korean literati during the Joseon Era (1392-1910) used to paint things in their mind to express their philosophy and psychological status.

Kim is emeritus professor of art and design at Ewha Womans University. She earned a BFA in Korean Painting and an MFA in Fine Art at the university.

The exhibition runs through July 1.