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Kim Gui-line, pioneer of monochrome painting, dies at 85

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Monochrome painter Kim Gui-line / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai
Monochrome painter Kim Gui-line / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai

By Park Ji-won

Monochrome painter Kim Gui-line, a pioneer of monochrome painting in Korea, has died in Paris, France, Friday, local time. He was 85.

Born in 1936 in Kowon, South Hamgyong Province, part of present-day North Korea, Kim studied French at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and moved to France in 1961 to focus his studies on French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

While struggling with language differences and studying art history at Dijon University, he taught himself painting. He held his first solo exhibition in Dijon in 1965. He also attended Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts from 1965 to 1968 and studied under French artist Roger Chastel, earning his BFA at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in 1971.

"Untitled" (1967) by Kim Gui-line / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai

His early works in the 1960s are inspired by his dreams from when he was young. In his works from the mid- to late 1960s, he used five colors ― black, white, red, yellow and green ― commonly used in Korean traditional motifs.

"While he showed tendency to objectify pure black and white flat paintings in the 70s, Kim improved flat monochrome works which consist of small squares and egg-shaped dots as basic units within rectangular canvas in the 80s. Reaching the 1990s, Kim used bright primary colors to present works that affirmed the dualistic relationship," Lehmann Maupin, a New York-based gallery, wrote about him.

He held many group and solo exhibitions in France and Korea throughout his career. In 2017, he held his last solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Park Ji-won


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