"Klang der großen Stille"

(Sound of the great Silence) 

Das Kunstmuseum Waldviertel Schrems, Niederösterreich, Austria

 23rd March to 8th September


Vernissage: 6th April 2024 at 4 pm
Das Kumstmuseum Waldviertel, Mühlgasse 7a
3943 Schrems, Niederösterreich

About the Exhibition

Artist's Notes


Something is about to float to the surface of my consciousness. 


The wave rises and something is moving from the bottom toward the surface. I can only feel the current, though I can't see it. However, I can clearly feel there is something in it as the current signalizes. Sometimes small things seem to swim together, as if they are one organism woven together, and sometimes something huge seems to be beckoning me lonely. 


Though I cannot see what is moving underneath, I dip my hands in the water of consciousness, when they enter my heart in their inaudible sound and invisible form. More and more of me is immersed in water. Relying on my instinct I try to grope them and speak to them, using my brush and my hands. We play together feeling the waves. When our mutual trust has been built up and my prayer has endowed me with enough strength, I try to guide them carefully toward the surface of the water. I should let them breathe the air of the world with their head out of the water. 


It is as like a baby who lives in a peaceful huge archetypal sea of mother’s womb with no separation, then leaves there to come out into this world. Those existences who have grown enough beneath my consciousness in the deep ocean, wriggle their heads out of the intangible space and try to move towards the surface of my consciousness. It is there in the painting space, where we share conversations with the help of paper, brushes, and colours. 


For me, a painting is the space where the phenomenal world meets the deep Consciousness. It is like a mirror of deep Consciousness and a passageway through which we get to it. These beings that our deep Consciousness send us in the name of inspiration, existed in the state of Great Emptiness, i.e. Womb of Life, in which all shapes and sounds are melted. While we carry on our playful gestures, they learn my environments and language. Thus, they appear before me in forms that humans can perceive. They connect me to the archetypal world as like roots of a tree connect the atmosphere and the heart of the earth. And they become a light that reflects the existence of sun deep in there. 

 I am just like a small dot in Mother Nature, like a grain of sand. From time to time, I fall into a swamp of skepticism and uncertainty at work. Because I doubt whether I can bring things from the realm of the invisible to light in their true form.  Anyway, it is not that I paint on my own. There come paths, once I start painting and I just have to follow these paths. The birth of a child is accomplished through cooperation of a mother with her child. The mother's efforts alone do not work. The child's will is just that important. I believe in the will of the child to be born, in the will of existence to come into being. And I also believe in the generosity of painting space and the alchemic power of the painting-process. I ultimately believe in the great power that pushes these inspirations to the surface of awareness. 

March  2024 

Sung Min Kim 

Curator's Words

In the beginning is the intuitive image. 

This is how many of Sung Min Kim's creation stories could begin. In the beginning is usually, in her own words, "the urgency of a form." Often just an intuition. The inner vision pushes outwards, onto the canvas, to become visible to others." Sung Min Kim describes this usually lengthy process as a dialog between her deep consciousness, the body, the painting surface and the materials. The confrontation between the original image of inspiration and the concrete form on paper lasts so long until the latter stands up to the completion in creative process and, according to the artist: "... until I can communicate with the forms in the painting."

Sung Min Kim's work combines traditional Korean, Chinese and Indian painting with European modernism. "In Far Eastern painting," says the artist, "unity is the ultimate goal. It's about becoming one with nature." This is considered both the highest state of mind and the goal of painting.

Just as Sung Min Kim's inner pictorial visions find their way outwards step by step, the outer images build up in layers. Even if we can no longer trace all the phases of their creation in the end, we can still sense them, as the surface appears to be layered and interwoven in many ways, suggesting a depth of time that develops an additional quality to the painterly skill: the expression of duration. In the face of her paintings, we are drawn into the extended maelstrom of a fulfilled experience of time, which is primarily permeated by one intention: to be true, to unite and to pacify. 

Her restraint expression of forms, in that no predominant object motif captivates us from the outset, opens new doors to perception and allows us to follow the magnetism of the lines and structures and to see her paintings both abstractly and representationally. Sung Min Kim's paintings rarely, if ever, have a center and thus, without any pretentiousness, become free to be the center of the world themselves.

All of Sung Min Kim's pictures are obviously cut-outs. They point beyond themselves. Rarely are they concerned with a limited motif. They are pictures that go beyond their frame, tend towards infinity and thus formulate a claim to wholeness. Whether flowing or crystalline, the picture structure is always filigree and organic. A rare harmony of microcosm and macrocosm flows through them. And this also seems to concord with one of her statements: that the whole is contained in a part and a part in the whole: that there is no world of separate things, but only transitions and connections. This makes Sung Min Kim very modern in a very old way, combining millennia-old wisdom with the scientific insights of the present. And even more. The artist also incorporates her unawareness, her inability and, quite essentially, her feelings into the painting process. 

The theme of "embrace" has become very present in her most recent works. Sometimes the title of the work refers to it literally, sometimes indirectly, as in the ‘Images of Hope’. But this embrace, like every other gesture (the aspiring, the rooted, the meandering, the radiant...) is always enclosed and captured by the great gentle wave of the dynamic of creation. Thus, the pictorial concept of embrace, born of a biographical emotion, becomes the overarching expression of hope for contentment and everlasting ‘being loved’. The universe loves us. Picasso's words: "I can only paint what I love" may apply here in part. But not only in relation to people and objects, but to the entire cosmic space.

The artist lets us immerse in her pictorial spaces, and the flow of her brushstrokes lifts and lowers us with the tidal breath of the color ocean. Sung Min Kim tells of an unbroken time that is no longer determined by the loose sequence of functional actions. We feel at home in the space of this non-linear, all-encompassing, timeless time. It is the image-space that embraces us in a loving way, it is the time-space in which life vibrates. This is probably also what is meant by ‘the sound of great silence’: the sound, the vibration, as the world soul that flows through everything. Sung Min Kim's work is a dedicated striving to become one with this wonderful holistic whole. She does this in her own personal way, guided by tradition and empathy, with the help of her paintings. We can probably only talk about spirit, transcendence, or the infinite in images or poetic metaphors because they enable us to see paradox and the reality of multiple faces as one.

Sung Min Kim repeatedly attempts to make this sense of unity visible and tangible for the viewer with her poetic visual language. She is never interested in the spectacular effect, in the quick realization of an idea. Painting itself, the time she spends with a painting, how she arrives at a final picture, has a deep philosophical and spiritual meaning. The infinitely profound moment from which a work of art arises is sacred to her. The body is the medium of mental streams of consciousness and emotions. The brush becomes an extension of the body. Brush, paints and paper are then not simply materials or tools, but take on a life of their own, become partners, good friends, whose character and idiosyncrasy help to shape the work of art, sometimes even playing a significant part in the painting process. The artwork grows in the fusion of vision and reality, body and time. Carried by the longing for that state of joy of life - in which everything happens as if by itself; thought and action coincide; and the vibrating substance of universal unfolding takes over the progress. The concept of "doing nothing" (MuWui in Korean), so central to Sung Min Kim, shines through here. When it occurs, the painting is also successful. Thus, each of her works always contains herself as the pictorial constituent.  And precisely because she loves her works as much as a mother loves her children, she can release them into her own life. 

Bernhard Antoni-Bubestinger                    Curator, Artistic Director of the Art Museum Waldviertel 


 A Video is made with Interviews and paintings and edited by Karin Antoni, educational director of the Art Museum Waldviertel for the exhibition Klang der großen Stille. It is presented in the Audio-Visual Room in the Museum during the exhibition period.