Kim Byungkwan takes portraiture and painting and mixes them into a beautiful mess of color, swirls, geometry, sketching, and inspires an aesthetic within his paintings and sculptures that can leave you staring for hours. Residing in Seoul, South Korea, Byungkwan takes iconic images of Hollywood stars, most notably beloved starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, and breaks that iconic image into his own visionary presentation using scribbles and smears of paint. The level of detail and shear committment to each piece is breathtaking. Creating each work with acrylic on paper, he gives you what you need to “get” who the person is he used as his base — then slowly you see that image disintegrate into shear beauty and madness. Almost resembling a manic zombie representation of each subject, and altering the normal visual representation of his subjects into a hot mess of brush strokes and various other mediums, Byungkwan transforms each portrait into something more than just a face in the crowd or a celebrity portrait you have seen a million times, but rather a thought, an idea, and in his own words, “strangeness from familiarity (visual habit)“.
What I would like to express through my work is very simple. I am trying to bring out strangeness from familiarity (visual habit). Everything there is out there in this world, more or less, provides familiar vision. This familiar vision can be replaced as habit. This habitual vision which every object gives us and creates comfort. However it shuts down all the other possibilities. The habitual vision or visual habit makes us go by the routine ways. It stops us from having adventure and checking out the wonders out there. My work is trying to destroy, tear up, and reconstruct this habitual vision so that our vision can be expended to other images. I have strong faith in my work that my personal behaviour may lead us, “Strangeness within habitual vision off from the track.“
Byungkwan has won numerous awards such as the 2013 SeMA NANJI RESIDENCY Award, in Seoul, Korea, and was the 2012 Finalist, for the SIA Media Art Awards and 2011 Finalist for the New Discourse Fine artist selection. Apart from awards, various exhibitions have housed his amazing work as well, most recently Gallery LA MER, Gallery GAHOEDONG60, Cyart Gallery, in Seoul, Korea and the Karimacelestin Gallery in Marseille, France. Here are some of the pieces we love the most from his collection!