Minhee Kim is an artist exploring visual language through numerous materials and methods to express subtle emotions, narratives and memories that cannot be easily verbalised. Her recent projects show an attempt to portray the emotional fragility of the lives of ‘Comfort Women’, who were sex slaves during the Second World War. In particular, Minhee has been trying to comprehend the lives and suffering memories, trauma of the victims. Along with her practice, Minhee has widened her perspective from the specific issue of Comfort Woman towards the fragility that all humans experience in their lives(2018)
When it comes to eliciting work, my attention began to shift from myself to others at some point. Such interest and concern about the society expanded into searching for my role as an artist. Among many different social issues, the story of my country Korea within special circumstances called division became the central theme of my works. Among them, there is a story about North Korea that has become a different country, the warlike story of provocative actions by the North, and the heartbreaking story of separated families. Wishing that their stories will not be easily forgotten in a cynical modern society, I produced a monumental work called ‘Stairway that cannot be walked down’. On the stoned stairway hanging in the air embroidered a phrase that represents the painful reality, creating a surreal situation. Through this work, I attempted to intimate the difficulty of walking away from the tremendous grief centered in their lives to sustain their lives as before.
In my another work 'female worker', I tried to express female North Korea refuges' miserable lives through my painting. It is extremely rare for female North Korean refuges to come straight to the Republic of Korea. They must arrange it through Chinese brokers and other third parties. Unfortunately, every time they cross the border into another country they are exchanged as currency. They are appraised based on their age, looks, and physical use. In worse cases, they live as sex slaves to be exploited. I expressed fish in a fish tank about to be sold at any moment as a metaphor for the miserable lives and sorrows of these women.
In March 2010, there was the sinking of the Republic of Korea Ship Cheonan which was torpedoed by North as part of its provocation and left many casualties. This incident revealed the reality of inter-Korean division and caused much pain in the hearts of Korean citizens with allegations of power politics. I witnessed many people grief stricken on news broadcasts and interview clips and I wished to share their pain. As I have been contemplating on the role of art in capturing the reflections of others and society through work, I drew ‘A Deep Hole’ to express and console their pain and grief. In lieu of detailed narrative and situational expression, I expressed their grief through a large black well that has been burnt black and deep like their hearts. I believe that painting has the power to convey the ineffable through minimal colors and planes. Therefore, I have been contemplating a painting that can move hearts and can discover a message more intuitively on a screen.
Through painting extracted after countless time and layers of labor, I wish to discover the appropriate tool of expression via various mediums that can deal with the inter-Korean issues in depth, which is inseparable from my national identity. Further, I would like to look into the refugee issues that European countries are facing at the moment on the spot. As for the controversial issue of accepting refugees in France and the UK on the fence between the humanitarian stance and the national security or realistic circumstances, I would like to approach the issue with multilateral views and create relevant works as well.(2015)