Spotlight: Ken Gun Min’s Fantastical Artworks Bring Together a Whirlwind of Imagery

The artist's solo exhibition, “Wounded Man, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” opens at Denver's K Contemporary this month.

Artist Ken Gun Min (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.
Artist Ken Gun Min (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

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About the Artist: South Korea-born artist Ken Gun Min has lived a peripatetic life, spending time in San Francisco, Zurich, Berlin, and now calling Los Angeles home. His sumptuous and colorful works often bring together the art historical imagery and techniques from across these cultures. In recent years, the artist has mixed together Western-style oil paints, Asian pigments, colorful beads, and vintage crystals on raw canvas.

Considering the images that flood our lives through the media and internet, his works employ a patchwork sensibility, with disparate images coming together in seemingly endless combinations. This March, the artist will open “Wounded Man, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” his second solo exhibition at Denver’s K Contemporary Gallery, which will feature 20 new works, including mixed media paintings and drawings, artist books, found objects, garments, and traditional Korean painted folding screens. 

Ken Gun Min, Tiger Sisters (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, Tiger Sisters (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Why We Like It: Min’s exhibition name is a slight modification of Haruki Murakami’s famed novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The allusion is apt—like many of Murakami’s disoriented protagonists navigating strange worlds, Min’s experience as an artist is one spent shifting and navigating different cultural realities. Min’s works seek, like Murakami’s book, to transcend the temporal and spatial boundaries we inhabit, and, in doing so, allows different images to co-exist and collide. His works references imagery sourced from online collections, his own photography, and commercial illustrations with an array of copies, vintage animation clips, or screenshots culled from random Twitter feeds. In his artistic world, cartoon figures, birds, and tigers live alongside anatomical drawings, flowers, Western fabrics, and lush Asian landscapes, and these self-contained universes are ruled by their own internal logic and language. 

According to the Artist: “In our daily lives, we are in a constant encounter with imagery, navigating through smartphones, monitors, media, and textbooks. Every day there is a countless number of visual information being dumped into our awareness. These images are being infinitely reproduced and distributed, passing through our cognition filters to either remain or be trashed…. The flow of images shows and influences the way I make art, more specifically, influences the way I see or I live. The diversity of categories—media, personal, and historical references—become materials to use. They are layers creating new context and flow. I am fascinated by this moment of encounter and how the moment guides me to find out who I am and how I see.”

 

See images from “Ken Gun Min: “Wounded Man, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” below.

Ken Gun Min, Steam Room Saint (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, Steam Room Saint (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, ShortBoy (2021). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, ShortBoy (2021). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, Wounded Man (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.

Ken Gun Min, Wounded Man (2022). Courtesy of K Contemporary.


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