Emerging Artists | Sung Eun Kim

Moments of beauty

Sung Eun Kim, Market Street, oil, 24 x 36.

Sung Eun Kim, Market Street, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Growing up in South Korea, Sung Eun Kim spent most of his free time drawing cartoons. Kim recalls that when it came to school, he wasn’t confident in his abilities in any subject but art. Today Kim calls San Francisco home, and he is currently studying for his master’s degree in fine art at the Academy of 
Art University. The streets of his adopted hometown are also among his 
favorite subjects.

Kim often captures the slick, rain-soaked streets at night, with patches of light illuminating the windows of the surrounding skyscrapers. The artist says his goal is to find unique perspectives and views where he can turn the cold, man-made landscape into something that evokes beauty. Kim considers light the greatest inspiration for his paintings, citing its ability to turn an ordinary place into an amazing scene. “Night lights are the most intriguing subject matter of all for me,” he says. “Night lights give me the feeling of humanity in the shadows of the buildings.”

The greatest influence on his art, Kim says, is French Impressionist Claude Monet. He first saw a Monet work as a teenager visiting Paris’ Musée Marmottan. The particular beauty of Monet’s TRAIN DANS LA NEIGE stunned him. Kim says he couldn’t take his eyes off the painting for 30 minutes. “That’s when I realized that a painting can capture someone’s heart,” he says.

As this story was going to press, Kim was hard at work in his studio finishing up his moody, atmospheric cityscapes for a group show at Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA, and a solo show at Christian Daniels Gallery in San Francisco. When asked what he hopes to convey to viewers with these works and his paintings in general, the artist has a 
ready answer. “I want to give people a moment of resting in their life, someplace where they can just stop and relax,” Kim says. “I think that’s what beauty truly does for us and what I am obligated to do as an artist. I want my paintings to be the guide to looking around and seeing something beautiful.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff

Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Christian Daniels Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

Featured in the December 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art December 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story

Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook