Part I KIM Whanki, Heading to Paris
KIM Whanki, dreaming of becoming a painter from his childhood, left early to study abroad and spent his youth in Tokyo in the 1930s. It was where he was fully open to Western culture brushing up the various expression of modern art. His creative activity had been immersed in the passion for more than a decade, and fostered the essence of his art. KIM Whanki had desired of a grand adventure to Paris, the sacred place of Western art, finally embarked on ‘Grand Tour.’ It was in 1956, at his age over forty, creative and artistic activities in Korea were full and active.
The ‘Grand Tour’ was considered the culmination of youth education in Europe from the 17th to 19th centuries, as it has long emphasized as in the East, "Knowledge comes from books and experience of the world. (Read 10,000 books and travel 10,000-li *Li: the distance unit of Korea; the current 0.4km)" to complete personal growth. It was a privileged trip aimed at the growth of true consciousness and the completion of cultural recognition, beyond the knowledge and cultural acquisition passed from school, through the actual experience of and solving on its own. During the months and years of journey to Paris away from his hometown, KIM Whanki encountered and experienced himself the art, especially sophisticated culture and society of France, the religious art of Italy, and history of Europe. The growth in reflecting and realizing oneself by experiencing, learning, and communicating with other world has further served as a momentum to facilitate the change of society.
KIM Whanki spent four years in Paris, the center of culture and art, enjoyed the rich historical, cultural and artistic treasures. He looked back at his art world paralleling with the experience the masterpieces and works of modern art, and used it as opportunity for reflection and conviction on what to pursue. He left behind beautiful works and writings of awakening and exploration of himself within his artistic soul called the 'poetic spirit.' They were delivered to his friends and readers back in his homeland through letters, photographs, and newspaper articles called ‘Paris correspondence.’
Part II KIM Whanki, Discovering his own world of art
KIM Whanki had a chance to reflect on his identity and the nature of art through the ‘Grand Tour’ to Paris in 1956-59. He encountered the masters of modern art in person and found his way forward. There he realized that in order to become a global art, he must contain songs from his essence and sole uniqueness above all else. In this process, the longing for pottery and traditional objects that are cherished in his homeland established as his identity of art. The original formative language tirelessly created by the convergence of Korean traditions and national culture such as jars, plum blossoms, deer, birds, mountain, and the moon painted by images in one’s mind on the other side of the world, was completed with the art philosophy of ‘poetic spirit.’