Hansam Kim is a young Korean scupltress who was born in 1982 in Pusan, the second largest metropolis of the South Korea. We meet for the first time in a café near via Fiori Chiari, a place which is well reknown for its artistic activities. While we are talking, I call her “an artist” or “a sculptress”, but Hansam corrects me immediately because she is rather consider herself humbly “a student of sculpture”. Yet her curriculum of studies and her ability would make her qualified as a proper artist without any doubt.
I interview her while she’s working on cube of clay and I notice how many schoolmates of her stop to watch her sculpting technique, trying to get some secret from her skillful hands.
Hansam explains: “When I had to prepare the entrance to the University in Korea, the teachers use to train students pulling up an envelope containing the assignement of the day. We had four hours to develope our work, and after a break, the next envelope was opened for the training of the afternoon and then again with a third one for the evening. I needed to be fast and precise. We would stay at school from 9 a.m. up to 10 p.m. every day for two months. I believe that I learned and developped my personal techinques during those two months”.
Hansam studied at the Ulsan’s School of Art, where she graduated in 2000, and then, following her passione for visual arts she joined the Kookmin’s University of Art where she got her degree in 2005.
During the years of highschool in Ulsan, a teacher pushed her to put her efforts in sculpting, realizing the great skills in the reproductions of small details of the objects shown during the class to be copied by students.
“During a drawing lesson, when my teacher realized that I was lefthanded, he told me to apply for sculpture. He explained to me that a lefthanded person use the right side of the brain; the one set for analytical and logical tasks, like maths and reproducing geometrical images. From that day on, I have started to put all of my efforts in the tridimensional creations and I left behind other figurative arts.”.
That good advice has paid off few years later, in fact, just after her graduation from University, some of the works of Hansam were chosen for a collective exposition in a gallery of up-and-coming young artists. Hansam in subsequent years has participated in numerous art exhibitions related to the circle of artists of her university.
One of the installations of this young sculptress, which first drew great attention and is assessed by positive reviews, is an installation displayed in Seoul in 2005, representing a metal cube surrounded by a group of floating skulls embedded with a mosaic glass.
The group of shining skulls recalls in the minds of us Westerners, the most famous “For the Love of God“, the human skull in platinum diamond-encrusted made by Damien Hirst, which made its public appearance in June 2007.
“Each time I show my book, anyone seeing my installation with the skulls of gleaming glass, points out on how I was inspired by Hirst” Hansam tells me, almost like an embarrassing secret to confess. Yet her tone of despair is understandable as the result of its creation is given every time to the mere copy instead of an artistic work born by her creativity.
“My installation dates back to 2005, two years before Hirst’s skull made its appearance”.
Those two works recall clearly each other: it is undeniable.
Hansam tells me the reason of choosing to shape those skulls:
“The profile of a human skull seems to smile. I wanted to flip the negative feelings it conveys, turning it into something bright and irreverent, which is no longer scaring”.
Today Hansam is graduating at the Milan’s Brera Academy of Art, after a specialized course of four years, but surprisingly she plans to move to fashion to explore an artistic dimension that is more likely to pay back, compared to that of sculpture.
Wherever the love for art will lead her, I bet she will take with her the wealth of technical expertise and creativity that until now has characterized her work.