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The Magnificence Of Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings Find Focus With Aureo Gallery

No one can truly claim to know its origins but what our recorded science and history can tell us is that the sought-after element is actually not of our Earth. Through numerous asteroid collisions in outer space some 4 billion years ago, Gold, or ‘Au/aurum’ as it is known scientifically, came to exist on Earth. Gold is theorised by experts to be a product of supernova explosions; the dust from this ethery explosions between neutron stars that somehow found its way to settle deep in our Earth’s core. Many a millennium later, it is no surprise today that it is one of the most precious and ancient of elements on our planet, an element that signifies power and beauty, thus giving a celestial meaning behind wealth whenever gold is involved. Imagine then, what it’s like to be a painter who uses this valuable element, to express his art form? Without a doubt, it is quite literally, fine art from another realm. 

Those of you who appreciate fine art in its many forms can attest to the fact that it is a branch of human development and skill that invokes every facet of the human person in a very deep-seeking way. It is as Pablo Picasso once said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Art in itself is used to communicate, influence and empower the human intellect and imagination. That is why from the very birth of our human race, we’ve always looked to the Michelangelos and Da Vincis of our time to draw inspiration from. Even so, where most of us are used to perusing the usual paintings and sculptures from around the globe for this inspiration, there is one art form that is truly unique and philosophical in its own way of illuminating the senses- Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings. That’s right. Gold Paintings, put to canvas in solid, pure, 24-Carat gold.

Mr. Kim Il Tae

If you followed the introduction of this write up, Gold in itself, is an extremely precious commodity that carries the symbolisms of wealth, power and beauty, three characteristics that are associated with the elite of society. And we’ve seen it time and again, how Gold is used to reflect one’s status and rite of passage in and through society. In fact, the Gold Standard, was the universal currency of our modern age right up till the 1930’s, before passing through into becoming an extremely exclusive element, one that is almost always, used in the crafting of kingly items. So, imagine then the significance behind Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings. But first, who is Kim Il Tae?

Just like his special skill and craft, Kim Il Tae’s story is also unique, filled with many periods of formation through tremendous struggle, a story that deserves its own dedicated feature of course. Nonetheless, Kim is the first and only artist in the world to have formulated an inimitable way to paint using a mixture of oil and 24-Carat gold on canvas, and by no means is it an easy feat to achieve, considering gold’s soft, malleable and ductile properties as an element.

This makes it almost impossible for gold to be painted onto a canvas of any kind. That being said, after seven long years of experimentation and sheer hard work, Kim managed to perfect his own optimal mixture of gold, natural oil and a glue of his own making, all of which have made it possible for the Korean artist to shape and craft his magical Gold Paintings, all without a crack or change in colour. This successful formula automatically has placed him at the very top in terms of recognition for his skill and Gold Paintings, and he has been travelling around the world ever since, sharing the rich stories behind his Gold Paintings.

His niched and special craft in Gold Painting has taken his work to even the grand halls of the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in Europe, showcasing 20 of his Gold Paintings there. Having held exhibitions in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Macau, he has gradually gained great critical acclaim as he now continues to draw significant attention in the USA following his interview in March 2015 with The New York Times. Mr. Kim is also a recipient of numerous awards for his experimental work and his Gold Paintings are even collected by famous celebrities and people, such as the singers Madonna and Psy, former UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, former President of USA, Barack Obama and former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Through this growing fanbase of collectors who seek his Gold Paintings, it is clear that it is not just the gold that draws a huge crowd, but his art form’s message.

All these themes, motifs and elements can be seen in most of his paintings, each of which are sold between USD21,000 (RM86,000) and USD700,000 (RM2.8mil). For instance, like in the ‘Golden Dragon’ piece, one can see how the majestic dragon motif explores the symbolisms of nobility, supremacy and auspiciousness in the traditional Chinese culture. Similarly, there are also paintings that delve into themes like the energy and vitality of Ancient China, as seen in a piece like ‘Eight Golden Horses’. Kim also uses his Gold Painting skills to explore more evocative themes, like in ‘Mother’s Life’, where he expounds through each molded and shaped gold crease, the responsibilities of motherhood and her never-ending struggle to courageously face the storms of life. Kim Il Tae also draws from themes of ‘faith’ and ‘religion’, as seen in his Gold Paintings like ‘Bodhidharma’ and ‘Sacred Faith’.

His art form as a whole, takes shape based on his roots and heritage as an Asian native. While representing oriental traditions, love is a central theme to his works. He has a vision for people to connect instantly with his paintings regardless of where they came from. Through his Gold Paintings, it can also be seen clearly how the eccentric yet friendly artist is inspired by simplicity, with simple motifs a chief recurring element in his craft as well as also being in influenced deeply by themes of oriental philosophy.

It is through a first-hand experience of witnessing the splendor of his Gold Paintings that one can see the amount of hard work that the Korean artist has put into his craft. The mesmerizing detail behind each piece tells the tale of how Kim works passionately to distinguish himself from Western traditional artists too. The years of painstaking experiment to paint using gold is an embodiment of his burning desire to succeed, a reflection of him wanting to make a name in the mainstream fine art world that has been dominant by Westerners for so long. This, he lets his captivating Gold Paintings do the talking in his ambition to reach more fine art connoisseurs. Fate would have it that Kim Il Tae would meet the right person to aid his quest to have his Gold Paintings seen and experienced by the rest of the world: In 2013, his amazing craft inevitably caught the attention of skilled businesswoman, Serena Chiam. Introduced to Kim Il Tae at his private gallery in South Korea, Serena fell madly in love with those gold paintings and naturally decided to buy one of it, Kim’s ‘Rose’ painting. Serena not only believed in his art form and the gold paintings’ kingly appeal but she also saw its further potential in the rest of the Asian region, particularly here in Malaysia. Subsequently in 2015, through her network and connections in Korea, she decided to bring in some of his many paintings from Korea into Malaysia to introduce our local collectors with Kim’s unique work. 

In 2016, driven by her passion for Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings, she met Michael Teh, an equity investor and a local fine art collector, who also expressed similar tastes and visions for Kim’s gold paintings. Through their encounter, Michael himself decided to acquire a few pieces of Kim’s paintings. This fateful meeting of Serena and Michael would lead to the latter meeting Kim Il Tae in person in Gangnam, Seoul in April 2017. It was here that Serena Chiam and Michael Teh, both of whom are the founding members of Aureo Gallery, took the bold step to collaborate in promoting Kim Il Tae’s exquisite gold paintings together.

From left, Allison Yeo, Ms. Serena Chiam, Mr. Kim Il Tae & Michael Teh

Aureo Gallery’s commitment to Mr. Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings are almost as niched as the Korean artist’s unique craft and skill as well. The art curators are experienced in bringing together connoisseurs from around the region and what’s more, it is made up of individuals who are fine art lovers, something that can be seen through Aureo Gallery’s passionate management of exhibitions, both private and public. In fact, we from The Grid have already witnessed first-hand on two occasions how Aureo Gallery apply their passion for his paintings in two separate exhibition exercises over the last few months.

From left, Mr. Kim Il Tae and Our Editor, Charles Devan

This zeal to see Mr. Kim’s grand paintings meet newer audiences has also culminated in a series of upcoming exhibitions for 2018: Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings will be going on a rather special tour this coming April to China, with a momentous stopover at ‘The Forbidden City’, followed by a few other private exhibitions held concurrently by Aureo Gallery in locations such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Moving forward, with Aureo Gallery as the sole retailer of his work, there is no limit to what and where Kim’s Gold Paintings will take him and his craft to.

All that being said, as a novelty fine art form, there is an immense philosophical and emotional appeal behind Kim Il Tae’s work, one that seeks to inspire and evoke deep imaginations, all of which do their necessary parts in shaping the human person in a rich manner. At first glance, it can be easy to dismiss and critic Kim Il Tae’s work as yet another way to capitalise on the financial value of gold. However, therein lies the biggest misconception one can have about Kim Il Tae’s Gold Paintings; it is not just gold, but art first and foremost, something that has more extrinsic value. And in this case, one that uses an element of celestial origins to bring out the charm of the human mind and intellect. That idea when put to realism by Kim’s masterful craft, is both priceless and legendary.  

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