South Korean artist Sun-Hyuk Kim creates mesmerizing figurative sculptures that sprout into the air like trees. He uses stainless steel to render abstract representations of bodies and faces that are merged with sprawling branches. These outstretched tendrils reach in numerous directions to shape the human form and fill it with sprigs.
“[My art] describes the existence of human beings,” Kim tells My Modern met. “It is not about a human being as a successful being, but a focus on the incomplete human being.” His work is informed by COVID-19. “The pandemic of 2020 has clearly shown how weak the existence of a human being is. I use plants, animals, and objects as metaphors to show this.”
While these branches define the outline of a person's face and body, they do not create a substantial form. Instead, the twigs scatter inside the body like veins and capillaries, leaving pockets of empty space inside. This incompleteness creates tension in the sculpture, as though there is an expectation that the roots are going to continue to grow. Instead of a “successful” being,” the viewer is seeing a figure in progress.
Scroll down to see more images of Kim's metal sculptures, and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with his latest projects.