top of page

Interview: Rosie Kim

The Veiled lady, 2024

Oil, oil pastels, and pigments on linen

40 x 60 inches

1) Could you introduce yourself? Where did you study art, and when did you first see yourself as an artist?

Hi, I'm Rosie Kim, an artist based in New York. Although I attended three different art schools, it took me some time to find my true passion. My interests have always been diverse, spanning music, film, art, and design. Growing up in various cities and countries has deeply influenced my art, leading me to explore themes of intimacy, human connections, and the interplay between emotion and nature as a nomad. I studied Silversmithing and Jewellery Design at The Glasgow School of Art (2018) and recently completed my MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts (2023). While it still feels a bit strange to label myself as a "true artist," I began to see myself as one after finishing my MFA. This transition from the design field to fine arts allowed me to delve deeper into these themes and explore a broader spectrum of artistic expression, particularly focusing on painting and sculpture.

2) I remember that when I first visited your open studio at SVA a few years back, you were painting Greco-Roman-inspired figures. What were those works about?

During my time at SVA, I drew inspiration from poetry and mythology, using them as the starting point for my creative process. Memories of desire, love, sex, and death fueled my exploration of human relationships and emotional complexity. Initially, I depicted these themes directly through distorted nude figures, often juxtaposed in unconventional ways, while maintaining a connection to classicism and iconography. Over time, my approach shifted to a more subtle and indirect depiction of these themes.

Untitled (Shadows of the Threshold), 2024

Oil, oil pastels, and pigments on linen

40 x 60 inches

3) How have you moved away from figurative to abstract paintings? What is the transition like? Do you still see yourself as a figurative artist, an abstract painter, or both?

Since leaving school, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating where my work fits in. Ultimately, I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily need to conform to any specific category. I see my paintings as semi-abstract rather than completely abstract. While my work has evolved, I still incorporate techniques such as dissolving and overlapping elements, reminiscent of my earlier figurative works. This transitional phase allows me to experiment with new styles and techniques while retaining elements of my artistic roots.

4) What inspired you to utilize the Greco-Roman and Renaissance visuals and elements in your work? What was your response in seeing those kinds of art for the first time in your life?

Utilizing Greco-Roman and Renaissance visuals in my work was profoundly influenced by my experiences, particularly my visit to the Louvre and Rodin museum during my undergraduate years. Lost amidst historical artworks, I found myself captivated by the absolute mastery of form and texture, the ethereal quality of movement, and the captivating realism juxtaposed with dream-like elements. Greek mythology, with its portrayal of gods as inherently human, further fueled my fascination, blurring the lines between truth and fiction.

Selene, 2024

Oil, oil pastels, and pigments on linen

40 x 60 inches

5) What are your abstract works, some of which contain figurative elements, about? Why do they sometimes contain Roman numerals?

In my semi-abstract paintings, I aim to explore the dynamic relationship between memory, desire, and the passage of time. By incorporating figurative elements alongside abstract forms, I seek to evoke specific moments and emotions while allowing for multiple layers of interpretation. The figurative elements serve as anchors, grounding the viewer in recognizable imagery, while the abstract elements invite exploration and introspection. The use of Roman numerals further enriches the visual narrative by introducing a symbolic language that speaks to the cyclical nature of existence. Each numeral represents a moment in time, echoing the ephemerality of memory and the inevitability of change. I purposely place these numerals in no particular order to emphasize the endless and elusive nature of time, highlighting the impossibility of capturing its full essence. This interplay between figurative and abstract elements, alongside the symbolic significance of Roman numerals, creates a rich tapestry of complexities of human experience and the mysteries of the inner psyche.

6) How has western classical forms and motifs become an iconic symbol of antiquity and timelessness? How do you react to this centering of western culture and art, relative to the other cultural and art styles, as a Korean/Asian painter?

As a Korean/Asian painter, my reaction to the centering of Western culture and art is multifaceted. While I appreciate and draw inspiration from Western classical forms and motifs, I also recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating diverse cultural and artistic traditions from when I encounter new culture or experience. Therefore this idea can sometimes overshadow the richness and depth of other cultural and artistic styles, including those from Asia. My initial inclination towards Western culture was influenced by my surroundings; living in Europe, I naturally gravitated towards Western art. I'm particularly drawn to motifs from Greek-Roman mythology, fascinated by the portrayal of so-called gods as being more human than divine. In these myths, deities are depicted as beings full of emotion, complexities, and flaws, challenging the notion of divine perfection. While they may fulfill the role of overseers or judges, each deity possesses distinct characteristics and exhibits extreme emotions, making them relatable and compelling figures in storytelling. This exploration of divine humanity has deeply influenced my artistic perspective, inspiring me to delve into themes of emotion, identity, and the human experience in my work. Rather than seeing it as a limitation, I view it as an opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive and diverse artistic landscape. I believe that art should be a reflection of the diversity of human experiences and cultures, and I strive to contribute to that diversity through my work as well.

Daphne, 2024

Oil, oil pastels, and pigments on linen

40 x 60 inches

7) How much of the idea of the West is a social and artificial construction? The Greeks believed in the racial stereotype that the people further west of Greece had spirit but also had clumsy hands, while the people further east of Greece lacked spirit but excelled in technical aspects. Greeks were obviously superior (a bit of sarcasm is intended here) because they had both spirit and technical attention to detail.

My initial exposure to the concept of the West occurred through Plato’s “Symposium.” I lean towards the perspective that the idea of the West, particularly in its Greek and Roman manifestations, is a complex and socially constructed concept, rather than solely determined by historical perceptions or cultural narratives. Despite some perceiving me as disconnected from their cultural history as an Asian/Korean artist, I’ve found that the broader perception of the West is rooted in its philosophy and social ideas. In particular, I delve into the mythological aspects of the West, recognizing its evolution over time and its multifaceted nature. Rather than adhering strictly to historical or geographical definitions, my aim is to explore and emphasize the mythical and subconscious associations of the West. Through this exploration of mythological constructs, I seek to provoke thought and contemplation on the fluidity of cultural identities and the power of collective imagination. My hope is that my work serves as a reflection on the nuanced interplay between cultural perceptions and individual experiences, and its implications in society.

8) If the idea of the West is a social construction, where does your source lie? Does it lie within fantasy or alternative reading of history?

My sources of inspiration stem from a blend of personal experiences, social ideologies, and alternative historical interpretations. Rather than merely ‘re-interpreting,’ I perceive my creative process as ‘re-inventing,’ drawing from my unique life encounters and perspectives. Recognizing the socially constructed nature of the Western concept, I approach my artistic endeavors with an openness to fantasy, unconventional historical readings, and subjective interpretation. Embedded within my work is a sense of ambiguity, uncertainty, and a touch of fantasy, reflecting the inherent fluidity of human emotions and desires.

Untitled (Leda), 2024

Oil, oil pastels, pigments on linen

60 x 72 inches

9) Who are some of your favorite artists?

Some of my favorite artists include Cy Twombly, Ross Bleckner, and Willem de Kooning. Their work resonates deeply with me, embodying a sense of freedom and spontaneity that I aim to capture in my own practice. Their loose yet intense brushwork, combined with their ability to convey complex emotions through abstraction, is truly remarkable. While many attempt to mimic their style, the emotional depth and raw energy present in their work are not easily replicable. These artists serve as constant sources of inspiration for me, continually pushing me to explore new avenues of artistic expression.

10) Is anatomical accuracy important to you?

I believe anatomical accuracy holds nuanced importance in art making. Initially, I didn’t fully grasp its significance until my former professor, James Sinena, challenged me to draw my hand daily. Reflecting on his guidance, I now appreciate the fundamental role anatomical accuracy plays in artistry. While a strong conceptual framework can sometimes compensate for technical shortcomings, anatomical accuracy remains essential for most artists. Even in abstract painting, a solid understanding of anatomy can greatly enhance artistic expression. I recognize the value of foundational skills gained from experiences like nude drawing classes or 3D modeling courses. These experiences have partially influenced my approach to portraying figures in my work.

11) What are your plans and dreams for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

In the next five years, I aim to establish a significant presence in the art world, whether through my artistic endeavors, teaching, or even working as a gallerist. With my unique perspective as an artist, I see myself contributing to identifying and promoting other talented artists. Feeling somewhat isolated in this industry at times, I aspire to change that narrative by mentoring and guiding younger artists. Ultimately, my goal is to gain recognition for my work and to give back to the next generations of artists.

62 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page