Ilhwa Kim (b. 1967 in South Korea) creates works that are composed of tens of thousands of seed units. Each seed unit has a combination of straight lines and circles, which compose a tiny single universe. The materials are created personally for every single universe. The Korean artist dyes each sheet of paper by hand with thousands of different colours cutting and rolling the layers of paper to make them rigid. It gives Kim an emotional bonding to every single universe. Not a single universe has the same shape, look or colour in her work.
The tactile universe pushes away the distinction between sculpture and painting; tenderly relaxed conversation goes on ceaselessly between the sculptural weight and tactile painting quality. The universe transforms dramatically from afar to close up. The sense of completion never comes as each perception betrays the previous one from moments before. Kim’s universes are free from an optimum point of view. Taking a look at the work closely, you can witness the seeds lodged tightly in the surface, pushing and pulling themselves to sprout. However, the moment you watch it from a distance, the work transforms into waves lashing out from the confines of the work.
lhwa Kim's mesmeric paper compositions have won her 4 major awards, including The Grand Art Prize, MANIF Seoul 1999 Excellence Award and The 16th Grand Art Exhibition of Korea. Her distinguished creative practise has been recognised by the Washington Post, Euronews and Financial Times.
Notable artworks are also a permanent collections of the Sungkok Museum (Seoul), and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul). Other significant exhibitions and solo shows include: ‘Seed Universe 天下圖’, Dennos Museum, MI, USA in 2016 and the artist’s solo exhibition at Seonam Museum, Seoul, 1997, "Beyond Visibility" at Gallery Hue, Singapore and "Seeds of the Universe", "Seed System", "Sensory Portrait" at the House of Fine Art Gallery, in Mayfair, London.
Actively acquired by museums, and present in significant collections worldwide, Kim has successfully entered the auction world achieving a groundbreaking result. Her work 'Tuner's Notes', auctioned during the 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale at PHILLIPS, Hong Kong, on 30th November 2022, selling three times the estimate price, setting an entirely new established benchmark for the value of her artworks, whilst transitioning into a new phase of her career.