Near to the Paris Orly Airport is a building embracing the forest on the edge of the asphalt and a place built by French government out of deference to artists. This is the place where artists who do various creative works in France, such as painters, novelists, and musicians grow like trees and live shoulder to shoulder with other artists. A Korean artist, Moon-Pil Shim, who moved to France 30 years ago lives here. He makes good use of plexiglass instead of canvas, and the knife instead of the brush. Several layers of overlapping plexiglass becomes a work. His works consist of clear colors, lines, and sides that are more like ‘making’ than ‘drawing’. We need to be careful in front of his works. We can see different expressions depending on the lights and the direction of sight, and the moment we think we see something, that disappears. Simple and Complicated.
Moon-Pil Shim, who moved to Paris, France in 1990 and works in Europe. He has participated in public art projects in several cities in France, as well as his personal works using plexiglass which pass light like optical fiber.
It is not ‘colors’ we see, but the ‘lights’ that Moon-Pil Shim intended.
The sound of a dull hit made me look at it as soon as I opened the front door, and it was plexiglass covered with a protective cloth. This material often called acrylic in Korea. It is about 10% more transparent than glass, but it has a good light transmittance and about half the weight of glass. Moon-Pil Shim uses this material instead of a canvas. He made way for our camera crew while moving the heavy plexiglass with his wife. As we followed the way Shim made for us, we could notice that the entire wall of the first floor was not painted, but was different sized plexiglass applied with paints. This house, where the first and second floors are used as studios and the third floor is used as storage and the couple’s room, was built by the French government in order to consider a comfortable life for the artists.
The exhibition scene held at the Galerie Lahumière in Paris this May.
Moon-Pil Shim moved from Daegu to Paris, France in 1990. He arrived France in 1990 to learn French, and while he studied arts in order to find his lost artistic sense, his work style, which was more like hyperrealism, most definitely changed. The tools for drawing gradually disappeared and strange objects for making appeared. His work style has tended towards formative and installation works such as stuffing thin papers or films into a frame, or applying natural colors on several drawing papers.
Since his work is so delicate and clear, we once suspected that it was a digital copy worked on by a machine. The lines and sides, drawn with paints stand out because of the composition and color, feel more minimal. However, it is not the ‘colors’ we see, but the ‘lights’ that Moon Pil Shim intended. Incalculable light wavelengths pass through the painted plexiglass and transform diversely, and clash with the mind. In front of his work, people prick their senses and see the colors while blinking their eyes. No, they see the world.
I would first like to hear about plexiglass.
It is often called acrylic. I usually use German acrylic plates. If it is subtly divided, there is something with the way it presses and casts. Since both have different delicate characters, I mix-use them together. Plexiglass is light, but it is easily scratched in return. So we should handle it carefully. I use this material because I can transmit lights like an optical fiber. I also can induce the effect of mixing with color and texture in the style of overlapping several layers. The basic work method is to paint the back of the plexiglass. I painted it more than 20 times to give an adsorption texture that looks like it is printed. That is to say that the color we can see is not painted on directly, but it is a transparent color. Since many layers of plexiglass become a work, it is really heavy.
Your work makes me want to enjoy it slowly and for a long time. Sometimes I was adsorbed into the thick concentration of colors, and sometimes I was drawn to a wrong color seen between fine lines. Things we can see and things we can’t see. I should say that this is because the boundary-made tension remains there.
The biggest point of my work is ‘lights’. The color we see through the frame moves into innumerable colors according to the light transferred from the outside world of the frame. The color painted on the back of the plexiglass looks blunt because it is covered by the front one, and sometimes it is even seen as the wrong color. Even though it is a intense color, sometimes it feels calm because of the white color surrounding it. The thin line which traverses verticality and horizontally is just a line, it makes a lot of tension because of the color.
It is a totally different sight from the painter’s studio who express the world with canvas and paints.
That’s right. Since several layers of plexiglass plates are overlapped, one work is about 5 to 6cm thick. The width and length vary. Recently, I have been trying to overlap the plates in a zigzag without a frame, or working on geometrically shaped three-dimensional structures. It’s like the scale and shape just got bigger. I do it all by myself until the last process of making the frame.
The whole process of his works take place on the central table on the first floor. In order to make a smooth texture,
Shim repeats painting and drying more that 20 times repeatedly on the plexiglass.
White paints look like many different colors according to various elements such as material, depth and volume.
Artists house complex located near the Paris Orly Airport.
There are various kinds of tools and kits to make frames on the balcony outside the studio on the first floor.
I heard that this building was built by French government for artists.
The reason why France is called as a cultural powerhouse is that the government itself is a collector which buys artists’ work steadily, and at the same time arts are the area of everyday life for the French people. The French government has bought the work of living artists since 1873, and the storage for the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris was built in 1977. The ‘1% system’, where 0.5% to 1% of the construction costs of a new building or extension must be used to a public art is mandatory, is a prime example. And I usually participated in this system. This system was enacted first in the 1950s when the writer Andre Malraux who was famous for the novel ‘La Condition humaine (Human Condition)’ was a Minister for Culture. Its’ primary goal was to support starving artists affected by World War II.
Please tell in detail about the case of participating in public arts under the 1% system. How did you apply for the public arts while you were working on your own?
It is easy to think that it is possible if the artist is well known participating in public arts, but it is only evaluated by the work. It is evaluated by how well the work fits the building while it maintaining the voice of the artist. They select an artist by contest, I was elected to public arts architecture projects several times, so I could install my works in few cities in France.
The work scene of Collège Eugène Vigne in Beaucaire, in which project he participated in 2011.
Moon-Pil Shim has participated in public art projects in several cities in France as well as the Collège Eugène Vigne.
The work scene of École Maternelle Saint-Vincent de Paul.
He diversely applied plexiglass used in his personal works and the story of lights to public art projects.
It is clear to see the style of Moon-Pil Shim even in the public art project. I didn’t know that your work would fit well with buildings like this.
I started the public art project in 2008. I could put my plexiglass talent to the test, which I used in my personal work, as much as I pleased while I was doing this work. Let me use the work of Collège Eugène Vigne in Beaucaire in 2011 for example. The natural light, which came through the window placed the ceiling, colorfully imbued every area with the reflection. Actually, I only painted one side and the rest is just white walls. In the case of École Maternelle Saint-Vincent de Paul, it was a work that penetrated the colored acrylic columns on the walls. It was simple, but it had a great effect. In the dark night, when the indoor lights leaked out through the acrylic blocks, it make a peculiar strange atmosphere. On the contrary, the outside light permeated into the inside through the acrylic blocks and brightened the inside during the daytime.
Including the Galerie Lahumière where you were a staff artist, how did the meeting with European Galleries in Paris come about?
The Galerie Lahumière is an over 60 year-old gallery which is affiliated with famous artists such as Victor Vasarely and Jean Dewasne. A lot of experts who have been to see my work say, ‘your work is a Galerie Lahumière style which mainly shows geometry abstraction work.’ So, I contacted the gallery and after several meetings, I was able to work there as a staff artist. In Belgium (at the Lee-Bauwens Gallery), the representatives are Korean Min-young Lee and Gil Bauwens. Lee studied in Paris and lived there for a long time, and after she moved to Belgium and opened a gallery there. She hosts several exchange exhibitions related to Korean and Belgian art. I am also going to hold a solo exhibition at the Alma Gallery in Montpellier, France from January 10 to February 22 next year.
(from the left) ‘Untitled’, 2019, 41 x 31 x 4 cm, mixed technique under plexiglass + on plexiglass/ ‘Untitled’, 2017, 75 X 52 X 5.3 Cm, Mixed Technique Under Plexiglass + On Plexiglass
Born in 1958 in Daegu. After he move to France in 1990, he lived in Paris and works frequently in Europe. Shim has participated in public art projects in several cities in France such as Tours, Le Havre, and Beaucaire. He has held solo and group exhibitions at many galleries in Europe such as the Galerie Lahumière in Paris and the Art’Loft in Belgium and has held many solo exhibitions in Korea such as Gallery Shilla and Art Park. He draws light with color. The screen, which is overlappes several layers of plates after painting the back of translucent plexiglass, leads to the diffusion effect of the colors. As the light penetrates, the color emits a more delicate aura. When people see his work, they open the drawers beyond their memories, including a deep ocean, setting sun, and Egyptian darkness. www.moonpilshim.com
매거진 <아트마인>에 게재된 기사의 모든 사진과 텍스트는 저작권법에 의해 보호되는 아트마이닝㈜의 저작물입니다.
사전 동의 및 출처 표기 없는 무단 복제 및 전재를 금합니다.
IMAGE © RAY MOON, MOON-PIL SHIM – ARTMINING, SEOUL, 2019
PHOTO © ARTMINING – magazine ARTMINE / RAY MOON STUDIO, MOON-PIL SHIM