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Kim Wan self portrait

Kim Wan self portrait

Kim Wan shows self-portraits and new graphic works at Electro Studios

Electro Studios Project Space is hosting a new exhibition by artist Kim Wan. In advance of the show he answered a few questions put to him by Jude Montague.

What are the themes and materials of this new exhibition?
Self-portraits, super-sharp colourful graphic paintings, prints, paintings, oil on canvas.

Is it a departure from or building on your previous work:
Both. In the last year, I’ve really started to build and evolve the artwork into its own visual language.

Are you still influenced by comic book art and graffiti art or are you moving away from these forms of expression?
No simple answer, the paintings represent further steps in the evolution of my practice. The graphic artworks are where fine art meets graffiti and the same could be said of the portraits – where fine art meets graphically sharp representation. There are a myriad of influences: the London School, Freud, Auerbach, Bacon. The paintings also are very dark in their manifestation, but when reworked take on a whole new meaning.

Kim Wan

Kim Wan

As a friend I know you are a practicing boxer and interested in physical and mental development. How does that relate to your art right now?
It’s the counterbalance to what I do in the studio. I work at night, sometimes until 4 or 5am, and it can take its toll on my emotional and mental health – especially in the winter, with limited hours of daylight. Keeping a consistent discipline of going to the gym and boxing with my club, BMAX, keeps me grounded and fit. This is so important to keeping equilibrium. The mental health aspect to making art isn’t properly addressed in the art world and I firmly believe it should be talked about more. It is a serious issue for many artists. So, in terms of impact on my art, I’d say that you can actually see my different moods if you look at the self-portraits. The graphic works are brighter… developed in tandem with some deep investigations into my personal background. So, this truly is a new departure in my work, as I now want to make new and beautiful works.

Can you reflect on a couple of pieces in the show?
They are self-portraits, oil on canvas, painted at night, on a one-time basis, then later reworked. The graphic artworks use mark-making and simple calligraphic marks to convey language. That is, instead of using letters in graffiti and whilst they look like letters, they are not alphabetic. I hope the viewer can interpret the sensation. I’m trying to convey a message…

Kim Wan

Kim Wan

Do you have any reflections on how Hastings has changed for artists who live here?
I’d say there has been a paradigm shift recently, although even before that there was always slow, gradual change. The main difference is that before the recent influx there was a distinctive group of elite fine artists and Royal Academicians (RA’s). Now the town has been saturated with lots of people who identify as creatives. It is a bit like the Joseph Beuys quote “Every human being is an artist.” in that its gone from elitist high art to consumer-led. Previously, the quality was highly concentrated, now it is spread out. There are more events, but a lot of the true soul of the ‘DIY’ ethic has been lost. Especially in terms of charging money for gigs. It is busier, exciting but somehow more superficial.

What does the future hold in terms of your artistic output – and what would you like it to hold? Do you have international ambitions to exhibit or is this becoming less important?
Since the pandemic, I’ve really just been focusing on working in the studio, and I now need to get the work exhibited and receiving feedback. I’ve got representation in NYC and, at the moment, my gallery is developing a core group of stable artists, with a view to promoting and organising new projects. Although I will keep showing in NYC, it is really nice to do a show in Hastings and St Leonards as all my friends keep asking to see my work. Having an overseas gallery is important, because it gives me the space to work locally and exhibit internationally.

I’m represented in the USA by NYC. You can see more of my artwork on my website:

Kim Wan Poster

Kim Wan Poster

You can read earlier articles about Kim Wan on Hastings Online Times by following this link.

Kim Wan’s new solo show is open to the public Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 April, 12–5pm at Electro Studios, Seaside Road,
St Leonards-0n-Sea TN38 0AL

The opening event is on Friday 19 April, 6–8pm, all are welcome.

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Posted 12:36 Wednesday, Apr 3, 2024 In: Visual Arts

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