Interview: Kim Hyunji Brings “Ephemera” To Melbourne
"Ephemera" runs from the 1/12 - 22/12
Mad Love
November 29, 2018

Kim Hyunji is an artist concerned with the big moments that punctuate the usual inertia in life. Whether it be despair, insecurity, pleasure or joy, Kim captures the recklessness and freedom afforded by our ever-fleeting youth.

Based out of Melbourne, Kim Hyunji has been steadily cementing her reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting and prolific artists currently working. With her signature oil paints and plush colour palette, Kim sets herself apart from her contemporaries by capitalizing on her unique ability to document moments of euphoria with a meticulous eye. Spend enough time looking at any one of her pieces and you’ll come to recognize each fracture of light, blemish of skin and soulful gaze of the eyes as they are lovingly rendered to life with her loose brushstrokes informed by a fondness for a hyper-realism.

In 2018 alone, Kim revealed her successful Sydney solo show Ephemera, showed in numerous other exhibitions, and further dipped her toes into the world of curation with her second curated show, ANON.  As the year closes out, we caught up with Kim before she brings Ephemera to Melbourne’s own Beinart Gallery.

It has been detailed in the past how your mother and grandparents were artists and that it left a strong impression on your outlook on art. Do you remember a specific moment growing up that made you believe art was a possible career/ lifestyle?

When I was young I thought everyone just grew up as an artist because all my family were, haha. I didn’t really like doing art when I was young as there was a lot of pressure and great art surrounding me that made me insecure. I began to practice art more when i was 18-19 as I needed to choose my major in uni. Sorry about the disappointing story. But I love love love art now!

What inspired you to move from South Korea to Australia?

My dad had a business in Western Australia when there was a mining boom, so my family moved to Australia.

Did you have any initial artistic expectations coming over here? In retrospect, did they change or evolve past what you thought they would be?

I had no idea about what was going on in Australia before, literally like koalas, kangaroos, outback… you know. I found this country pretty interesting. It’s a young country and there’s not a lot of hang ups that come along with tradition or culture, at least compared to Korea, which is quite conservative. Also it’s interesting to see the diversity and multiculturalism here. I’ve learnt a lot since I came to Australia.

Looking at your expansive portfolio, the reoccurring ideas of youth and diversity are present in each of your works. Why are these ideas so important to you? What made you decide that portraiture’s and paintings were ideal for this?

I like to observe what I see in myself and the people around me, and depicting the emotional stages that I have experienced in my works. Interpretation is open to the audience but I like suggesting small observations about the contemporary culture that current generations are going through in my painting.

I started doing portraits when I came to Australia. I started to paint my friends as way to practice and improve my technical painting skills – practice more diverse mark-makings. At the same time I was influenced by Australia’s multiculturalism and diversity, which is the opposite to Korea, a single race country. I did a lot of self-portraits in the early stages of studying art in Korea and I was always interested in depicting the face and flesh since then. In the human portrait, even the smallest and minuscule brush marks can change the whole feeling of the facial expression and impression. That what makes it so challenging- to translate the persona of a model into painting in this medium. That’s what I love about it.

Recently you have branched out into curation, make up and fashion. How did you decide to explore these different avenues?

I have done curation in the past to support the fellow artists that I believe in. The inspiration of the recent exhibition I curated came from a conversation with fellow painters, with the passion for painting as a medium and figurative art. I thought I could curate the show rather than finding a curator for it, as artist themselves have better understanding and appreciation for each others works than anyone else. Also, I wanted to give the general public (including my friends) accessibility to highly practiced painting, as most of the time, consumers of art are limited to people who can afford it.

For make up, my painting’s subject is mostly portraiture and I believe there is a strong correlation between these two mediums. I have also been hired as a model by Melbourne designers who value diversity since I moved to this city. This experience made me interested in the industry because of its collaborative nature. I see makeup as a medium to extend my creativity further from my main medium, painting. I’m excited to see what this new medium will lead me to, and to challenge myself.

You look to close out an already packed 2018 with your upcoming show ‘Ephemera’ at Beinart Gallery, Melbourne. What can people expect from your latest body of work?   

You can see my beautiful paintings if you come :) In my latest series I attempted to explore notions of the temporal, the fleeting moments of pure euphoria, as achieved briefly through the use of drugs and analogous experiences. I think about escapism a lot. The reality of the compositions paired with my sense of expressive abstraction hopefully evokes some sentiments of our culture of anxiety. I got lots of criticism about this series online, that I’m promoting the drug use but it’s definitely not about that. The paintings try to capture their subjects in states of intense self-reflection and exaltation, still in the midst of being attached to their methods used to enter a state of absence of mind. My work tries to convey some of what cannot be described or captured in those long seconds in between thought and action. I’ve experienced some new techniques and mediums for this series of works too, which I’ve enjoyed as well.


“Ephemera” opens this Saturday at Beinart Gallery (1 Sparta Place, Brunswick) and will run until Dec 22:

“Kim Hyunji (Kim Kim Kim) explores notions of fleeting disarray and moments of pure euphoria achieved briefly through the use of drugs in her exhibition, ‘Ephemera’.

The paintings capture their subjects in singular states of intense self-reflection and exaltation, still attached to the tools used to enter a state of absence of mind. The works attempt to convey the long seconds between thought and action. The reality of the compositions paired with Kim’s sense of expressive abstraction evokes sentiments that permeate the millennial’s’ culture of anxiety and disarray, a thematic element underlying Kim’s practice.”

You can find more details on Ephemera here.


Find more info on Kim Hyunji here.

Follow @kimkimkimxx



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