This work is accompanied with an artwork confirmation certificate issued by Whanki Foundation/Whanki Museum
The title of the painting, which translates from French as The Place Where I Lived, gives us an insight into Kim Whanki’s mind during the first year after he had just moved to Paris in 1956. Having been shown in one of his first exhibitions in Paris at Galerie M. Benezit, the present work shows us an artist who still has the familiar motifs from his native Korea on his mind. Stacked in three layers of the blue background, colourful squares, and white lines that hover between abstraction and figuration, the composition might seem abstract at first but in fact hints at many familiar symbols. The mountains, reduced to triangles and domes; the porcelain vase, abstracted into a circle with two squares; the bird with its wings up in the air; a river landscape that has been reduced to a two-colour blue background; and even the colour blue itself, which has a strong presence in Kim’s work during his Paris years and reminded him of the blue seas and skies in Korea. His three years in Paris were an important time in his career, as the artist recalls: “What I felt here is the poetic spirit. Art is supposed to carry poetic songs. A strongly resonating song is always attached to a masterpiece. It seems that I have specifically found what songs I have sung till now in Paris” (Kim Whanki quoted in: Exh. Cat., Daegu, Daegu Art Museum, Kim Whanki, May – August 2018, p. 35).
In this characteristic fusion of Modernist abstraction and personal symbolism, L’Endroit où j'habitais is an iconic early work by Kim Whanki. With its engaging visual language that hovers between abstraction and figuration, and painted in a captivating palette of colours, it perfectly captures an important body of work not just for the artist, but indeed for Korean art-history on which Kim has proven to be a lasting influence.
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