Interior and Exterior Perception--The Work of Wihro Kim

I first met Wihro Kim at a community art and event venue called The Bakery ATL. As a regular, I was helping direct people to a dance performance entitled “Sanctuaries and Fortresses”. Socializing outside, I spotted a guy with a classic yet simple outfit. Black Levis and a white T-shirt, walking unsure and humble. “Are you looking for the dance performance I asked?” He smiled as if to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing”.  Little did I know this timid first impression was a front in relation to his masterfully vivid and allusive paintings.

After inviting Kim to hang out (since he was nearly two hours early to the show), he made sure to explain that his name was pronounced “WEE-RO,  like hero”. I asked what Kim does. A vague, question that warranted his equality simple response, “I do art”. After showing Kim around The Bakery Garden, Kim pulled up his website, a simple format that showcases Kim’s scene-warped paintings.

vestigial-escape-wihro kim plasma magazine.jpg

Kim’s painting, done by using oil on canvas, toggles the eye between interior spaces and exterior environments. The morph between the two is so seamless, with it’s drippy visual elements, it almost seems as if the medium Kim uses is a gouache or water paint.

Kim’s work plays with the lines of perception. When looking at Kim’s work, it is difficult to identify which elements are coming or going, front and center, or simply elements of the background. They can be seen as abstract pieces or taken literally by his painted representations of rooms, nature landscapes, and the human body with comforting colors of mountain grays, baby boy blues, and slate greens. While pops of more vivid colors subtly excite the eye in reasonable doses, outlines haunt the images. For instance, in his piece “Point of Departure”, there is overwhelmingly a lot for the eye to catch. A wall that crumbles and blends with a mountainous landscape is broken by a bathroom with a lonely porcelain tub. 


Alternatively, but still true to Kim’s unique scatter-blended style, “Scape of the Land” is a bit simpler. An outline of a man looks at a mountainous landscape that can either be perceived as a painting or a window.

Although his work appears effortless in its deconstruction of perception between man-made and the natural, Kim is in no way an accidental talent. Kim received his BFA from Georgia State University in 2015 and has been exhibiting a consistent reel of his work since. 

Rightfully so, his mirage-like, reality-bending work easily falls under the surrealism category; a tier in which many young American artists have a difficult time doing successfully and as effortlessly as Kim. His paintings have the ability to magnetize its own elements to the viewer’s eye, making them question every aspect of what they are seeing, with awe as opposed to cynicism. 

He has shown locally with MINT Gallery, Hathaway Contemporary, Mason Fine Art, and Mammal Gallery amongst others and internationally with the Ionion Arts Center in Kefalonia, Greece. He was recently awarded “Local Best in Show” for MINT Gallery’s 3rd Annual Juried Exhibition and is a 2016-2017 WonderRoot Walthall Fellow. With his accomplishments thus far, Kim proves that he isn't just an artist to watch, but an artist to allow the eye to explore the work of. 

Instagram: @wihro