K Blick is a painter working with oil, oil bar, fabric pencil, ink, water-colour, and ceramics. She has had a studio at ASC’s Chaplin Centre for the past 3 years. Her work explores allegories and mythologies centred around the trajectory of human existence to animals and nature, which are reinterpreted in playful and imaginative ways informed by the Baroque period. She received an MA in Fine art from Central St Martins in 2020. She has an upcoming solo exhibition in 2022.
Last year you were working predominantly with Portuguese Baroque Tile following your residency in Sintra, Portugal in 2019. You are now in a new studio, what have you been up to since?
After completing my MA in 2020, I wanted to go back to Portugal and continue working on ceramic tiles, but I couldn’t because of the Covid-19, so I focused on painting. I would like to continue my painting practice with baroque porcelain tile medium as soon as things normalize. I moved into my new studio space two months ago, during which time I also visited my parents in Korea. I love my new studio – it truly is the perfect space for a painter; it’s practical with big windows allowing plenty of light to flow in, and lots of wall space allowing me to work on numerous canvases simultaneously.
I’ve had a productive year and I’m enjoying studio life very much. I have taken part in several group exhibitions in 2021, including ‘Our Home, This Mortal Coil’, hosted by Ione and Mann Gallery. Daily studio practice is important for artists to explore ideas and develop their techniques. However, taking part in shows is also a wonderful way to create meaningful experiences with other artists and get feedback from viewers on your work in the context of a gallery space.
Can you tell us about the premise behind your work?
Through the lens of contemporary society, I draw connections between the present and the past, creating new narratives that reconsider the myths and histories that we often take for granted.
For example, a current series of works is a paradoxical allegory about Prometheus (from Greek mythology), who stole the fire from Zeus but had given it to animals rather than humans. In this make-believe narrative, I sought to raise various questions around human existence and the objectivity of mythology underpinned by philosophy. How were humans able to reign the world? What allowed humans to think strategically? Why are humans different from animals? Could our difference be attributed to the ‘Fire’? How would the world be different if Prometheus gave dinosaurs the ‘Fire’ instead? Prometheus created humans by making them out of clay, but in my stories, my paintings; Prometheus is making dinosaurs from clay.
It’s really interesting like you say, looking at what Greek mythologies say about humans and all the power being transferred to humans. People talk about how we should see nature as our equal more often rather than thinking we’re above it. This trajectory we’re on with climate, nature will recover and rebirth itself and still be here – it is going through an awful time right now but it will outlive us. So it’s interesting as the earth gets hotter, we will all go but nature will still be here and eventually cool and regrow, and how that resilience and endurance isn’t part of our stories.
Can you speak more about your influence and practice in the Baroque form
I’ve been fascinated by elements of the Baroque, such as 17 century Portuguese tiles, Johann Sebastian Bach’s music, things with an irregular, non-spherical shape…… since I was very young – too young to even understand what Baroque meant. Over time and since travelling more regularly throughout Europe, I have realised its significance to my life and to my art practice. I love its extravagance in contrast to its distortions, its discontinuities, its movement, and its irregularities. This interest prompted me to spend time researching the Baroque in its different forms in music, architecture, and painting, and in particular the role it plays in influencing contemporary art. Aspects of my practice such as my flowing visual language, are how Baroque forms are translated through my own lens.
What artists have been your greatest inspiration?
16th-17th century Mannerist, Jacopo Tintoretto (his powerful, undisguised brushwork) and 17th-century Baroque artist Rubens, these two artists (especially drawing) are my long-term studies. Also, Sin Yun Bok, Adriana Varejao, Marcel Proust, Do Ho Suh
Can you talk more about your porcelain tile work…
I research metaphorically expressed distortion, discontinuity, and dynamic movement. Since 2019 I have contrasted this with new allegories I’ve created, informed by the Baroque period through Portuguese Baroque tiles. All porcelain tiles were individually hand-worked using 17th-century traditional methods and materials in Portugal. This method started from my interest in depicting the nature of our strong yet brittle life – like porcelain stems – from a landmark moment in my own life, when my father had a serious operation which caused me to question human fragility. I started using a palette of blue shades to evoke the feelings of life’s mysteries inspired from my Asian roots far Eastern porcelain.
What piece are you currently working on?
For my current work, I was intrigued by how the Milky Way in the universe was created [the Milky Way was named after a Greek myth where Hera sprays milk across the sky]. This led me to distort and reconstruct the origin of the Milky Way that interweaves Greek mythology. Tintoretto’s paintings in Mannerism and Rubens’ paintings in the Baroque period, includes works that focus on the psychological state of Hera, who gives milk to Hercules, born of Zeus’ affair. In those paintings, humans are in the form of gods, whereas animals are expressed incidentally. Yet in my interpretation, gods and spirits take the form of animals or therianthropes, which expresses animals as having an equal relationship with humans.
What sources do you turn to for inspiration when you are creatively stuck?
I usually do yoga, read a book, especially manga (comic), surf the internet or go for a walk.
Do you like mistakes?
I think mistakes are an indispensable process of creation.