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JungSuk Kim  

(Korean, b.1967)

 Glass Art – Decorative Space of Pictorial Abstraction


YeongMok Jeong _Professor at Seoul National University



It is generally accepted that painting has constantly led the development and change of Western Modern Art.  In particular, the movement of developed painting, expanded as abstract when digressed from the representation, is spreading directly to other areas of art.  For example, the ripple effects of pictorial abstraction on other art genres can be easily found, and even encompass architecture, Bauhaus’ motto and the educational outcomes.  The abstract, which is digressed from the politics of representation and the social paradigm, is relatively situated as the best style that aims for a ‘Utopian Purity of Art.’  On the other hand, the abstract played a catalytic role in communication between mediums.  These tendencies appeared variously in Picasso’s<Guitar>, which is often referred to as ‘pictorial sculpture’, V. Tatlin’s <Co-edge space relief>, which is described as ‘sculptural painting,’ K. Schwitters’ <Merzbau>, which has been called ‘architectural sculpture,’ and G. Rietveld’s <Chair>, which has been called ‘painting craft.’  Of course, there is no need to say that the opening of this sluice gate of communication was a shock to original concepts about space.  JungSuk Kim’s glass work has a root in these two kinds of attitudes in terms of modernism.

In other words, firstly, if it pursues pure ornamentation of the abstract through the glass, it is in keeping with modernism in terms of both aesthetic and spirit. Secondly, disregarding the inherent functionality and practicality of crafts, JungSuk Kim tried to combine two mediums which are clearly flat and fueled by painterly abstraction in terms of pure ornamentation.  However, as this combination involves ornamentation with a positive attitude about space, it attracts the viewer through beautiful novelty, which boasts transparency with light.


The transparency of glass was already a dream medium for modernists at the beginning of the 20th century.  It became synonymous with ‘Purity’ as a material, and played the role of a metaphor, showing that the ‘outside and inside’ of nature can pass through, or the ‘inside and outside’ of humans can communicate, abundantly as a practical and symbolic material which can be used to replace stone, wood and metal as the building material that a socialistic utopia dreamed about.  All these ideas are because of the principle of ‘Purity’.  Perhaps the transparency of the glass probably thought as an alternative plan which will beyond the medium’s characteristic of original arts including painting and the limit.  Of course, the transparency exists by getting the light, and it also has a tradition of Stained-glass which applies it already.  How could other mediums of art follow the visual atmosphere that transparency arouses?  Each viewer will have a different feeling and opinion, but when you compare it with painting, the characteristic reveals more.  The two media have many similarities in terms of character, but the ultimate difference is finally the problem of ‘Absorbability'.  The colors of glass can be overlapped, but they can’t absorb each other.  That’s why it’s transparent.  Therefore, it doesn’t have the effect of ‘vapor permeability’ between colors and ambiguity between the boundaries such as delicate ‘spread’ of painting, and as such the transparency looks much better.  This is the advantage of glass.  Even glass can make a neutral color.  For example, if blue and yellow are overlapped and melted with fire, then green can appear.  However, while the maker can predict the kind of green color according to the ratio of mixing, the final result is really dependent on the fire.  In this respect, the glass crafts should be crafts.  In addition, the glass crafts are harmonious with the notion of abstractness.  In other words, pictorial abstractness, which expects ‘Coincidence,’ can be ‘created’ through unexpected results during the process of melting with fire.


Finally, let’s consider the problem of space.  JungSuk Kim majored in metal crafts, glass crafts and sculpture in university and in graduate school.  As such, he naturally has seriously considered the problem of space in his own work more than anyone. Therefore, he has manufactured three-dimensional works in various media in which the installation work and the sculptural characteristic were strong before his current work of pictorial abstraction.  However, when we consider that the tradition of glass crafts is short in Korea compared to Western Europe, and that our situation is vulnerable in this regard, the current work of JungSuk Kim is very encouraging.  We have talked about Western Europe’s modernism as an extension for the root of the writer’s pictorial abstraction, but abstraction in this age is just abstraction.  The ideas of heroic, absolute, and talented that were held by abstraction in the past have disappeared, and abstraction, nothing more and nothing less, is only a form of art.  The artist’s abstraction is a social strategy of this age that contains visual energy.  Also, the artist’s glass abstractions, which become shinier with the light, fit the technical concepts of this age.  As we compare his current ornamentation works, which have a strong painterly quality, with his past works that attracted artificial light into a concept and had a strong sculptural quality, we are confident that JungSuk Kim will resolve the relation and harmony of these two elements.  Even his current glass abstractions compared to his past sculptural works seem to suggest that pictorial testing is certain, but it seems like the ornamentation is stronger because of the light.  As the past works solved the light with concept and subject, we can consider this because the light is now an accessorial device measure.


In the end, the final key to craft is not the problems of technique and technology, formality, and craftsmanship.  Even though all of these issues may be overcome, it must be the problems of patience and an attitude of “how we can lead it harmoniously” for the gap of work quality and functionality (including ornamentation) that shares the same era.

Glass + Light - Interior Space

Sept. 20 - Oct. 31, 2008

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