Q: Tell us about your practice

A: Purgatory is a non-space, a place before heaven or hell — it is a place of nowhere. The labeling of purgatory suggests a space that is neither here nor there but somewhere; it is a liminal dimension. Beyond the religious, there are many moments of purgatory in our everyday lives, like places we find ourselves constantly waiting, between destinations. Without a clear sense of location we lose our bearing and our sense of selves. 

Unlike movies that are saturated with colors and excitement, many people endure desaturated timelapses, composed of unexciting conflicts that seem everlasting. Desaturation is more relatable, and usage of mundane objects allows the paintings to become representations of the larger demographic. Contents of the paintings are allusions or anecdotes that recall the idea of the liminal.

Q: Your process is quite unique, can you tell us about it and how did you develop it?

A: All Paintings are drafted on a 3D modeling & rendering program. This preliminary process is an homage to the artist, Piero della Francesca of the Early Italian Renaissance. The usage of a 3D modeling & rendering program allows me to find similar precision to that of Piero’s. In a virtual space (3D program), I am aware of the exact geometries, locations, distances of all objects. The usage of numerical precision and the continuous dialogue of what is deep & flat creates the feeling of uncanny. Although everything is exactly spelled by mathematical precision, there is a mystery that is not quantifiable.

Finalized 3D models are rendered and then printed on an inkjet printer in multiple layers. These images are then transferred onto painting surfaces using inkjet transfer techniques. Similar to glazing (thin transparent layers in oil painting), overlapping layers of inkjet transfer mimic the process of glazing. Ultimately, the transferred images are utilized as underpaintings. This process refers to the use of cartoons when creating frescos. “Cartoon” is a full-scale drawing of a future fresco. The purpose of a cartoon is a thorough study and final rendition of the composition, light, shadow, details of the future fresco.


Q: What has been inspiring you lately?

A: Originally, the theme of purgatory was a cerebral concept. However, during the pandemic, I became a character inside what was once a distant concept. The purgatory, very apparently, became my immediate reality. My direct affiliation motivated me to add figures into the picture plain. I’ve been experimenting with figures ever since.

My preferred reading: Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, 1Q84, Metamorphosis, The Castle, Devil in the White City, American Psycho, Don Quixote, etc.

Favorite Artists: Magritte, Piero della Francesca, Mark Manders, Fischli & Weiss, Kerry James Marshall, Dominique Fung, Jasper Johns, Hokusai, Nam June Paik, Hiroshi Sugimoto, William Kentridge, Kathe Kollwitz.


Q: What's next for you?

A: I’m currently experimenting with figures. Ukiyo-e is a huge reference to how to represent figures. Currently I am planning to paint with multiple figures in a single picture plain. I believe that the process of depicting multiple figures and their relationships to one another will open up new possibilities and challenges.


"There is always something beautiful and haunting about the imagery of Ho Jae Kim’s paintings. What’s presented, and what’s also missing, are both important.

As you examine his work, the eye discovers layers and layers of physical artistry, and the mind explores layers and layers of meaning.

For me, the work represents beautiful imagery, the mastery of technique, the subtle inclusion of art history references, and subject matters rarely encountered in painting. He leads the viewer into spaces of uncertainty we will recognize, and allows us to reflect upon what it means to simply be. He starts a narrative, but leaves it to us to complete it.

Living with his work, I find over time, I get to know and respect each painting more and more deeply, and to appreciate both its beauty and its intellectual challenge."


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