Celestine Kim



Originally from South Korea, Celestine (Jung Hee) Kim is a visual artist now living in Cambridge, and is studying fine art (MFA) at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University.

Her training as an interior architecture designer informs her art. She considers painting as an extension of architecture and uses two-dimensional paintings to address the space. Her research explores the representation of painting in space and vice versa.

She considers labyrinths to be a metaphor for the human condition. Labyrinths contain infinite possibilities of events within which we may get lost, meditate or encounter lost objects, people and memories. Through her translation of labyrinths on a two-dimensional surface she encourages the viewers to seek what they are looking for.

About the exhibition ‘Labyrinths’ (2013)

by Celestine Kim

Main theme and
philosophical background

My main theme is the labyrinth. One of the oldest symbols from the prehistoric age, with regard to the eternal life circle and infinity, is the labyrinth. The labyrinth is one of mankind's oldest artistic creations, an image drawn or carved or scratched by a human hand that does not copy something seen in nature. It is one of the first images - maybe the first - to be inspired by the human imagination. Around fifteen thousand years ago, the inhabitants of the caves of Altamira [in Spain] and Lascaux [in France] must have thought these places as what we now call labyrinths. The people who came there for refuge drew spirals and meanders [the symbols of the labyrinth] as well as animals. Additionally, caves, which are one of the types of labyrinth, have been considered as a place of enlightenment in ancient times. For the history of the labyrinth, people have tried to find the truth of life and death through the labyrinth. Ancient labyrinths are believed to have served as traps for malevolent spirits or as defined paths for ritual dances. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth). Modern labyrinths give us visual pleasure and amusement.

A labyrinth maybe the journey through life, the journey to a holy city either in this world or the world to come. It may follow the whirls of the brain, or the intestines or the birth canal. It may be a system for understanding the calendar. It may be a dance or the signature of master architect. It may be the footprint of a city, that most human creation. [...] Whatever its form, the labyrinth is always utterly human. And if it is a prayer, what could be more human than that? Gods don't pray (McCullough, The Unending Mystery, 2005, p.228).

Through these unlimited concepts of the labyrinth, it is possible to have numerous ideas and inspirations about eternity and infinity with reference to human life. Jacques Attali said "we must relearn labyrinthine thinking and restudy the strategies necessary for our evolution towards a reinvention of the secrets of this ancient wisdom".

Jorge Luis Borges' The Library of Babel (1956) is the beginning of my interest in labyrinths. In the library of Babel, hexagonal rooms form an infinite honeycomb, and this is a metaphor for the infinite labyrinth and the boundless universe.

We know, too, of another superstition of that time: the Man of the book. In some shelf of some hexagon, men reasoned, there must exist a book which is the cipher and perfect compendium of the rest: some librarian has perused it, and it is analogous to a god. Vestiges of the worship of that remote functionary still persist in the language of this zone. Many pilgrimages have sought Him out. For a century they trod the most diverse routes in vain. (Borges, The Library of Babel, 1998 [1956], p. 78)

The metaphors within the labyrinth are endless because they are shaped by our creative imaginations. Human imagination is boundless. The physical structure of the brain resembles a labyrinth; and in my head, both brain and mind are like labyrinths. For me, this represents countless rooms and roads consisting of knowledge, feelings, experiences, sense and sensibility. These are cerebral and emotional simultaneously, and regardless of limited life time, these rooms and roads are infinite. These have comings and goings, spirals and blind alleys, and distant proximities as well as illusory distances. This resembles an infinite labyrinth, and I visualize this by painting. I paint and make the labyrinths. I am a labyrinth-maker as Daedalus was.

# Notions to relate with my work

According to Nietzsche who can be seen as initiating the beginning of Deconstruction, "The truth is nowhere. People just want to believe something is true." In this connection, Derrida believed that many facts (truth) can exist in an artwork. Different people can see different things in the same picture. I believe in the existence of various possibilities for the truth of an artwork. My paintings are suggestions for some things which viewers want to see and find. There are different possibilities of interpretation for the viewer. Different people can experience something different in the same labyrinth of mine, and experience has no limit. This is what I pursue, a way or a path towards infinity as a human and an artist.


Sep 2011 to the present:
ARU, Cambridge School of Art,
MFA (Fine art), UK

MA of interior architecture design and BA of fine art, Seoul, South Korea


May 2013, Group show<In the expanded field>,

Solo project <Portals>, Ark (Changing Spaces), Cambridge

May 2012, Group show<Rus104>, Ruskin gallery, Cambridge

Dec 2010, 29th Lineart Fair, Planders Expo(Ghent), Belgium

July 2010, 13th World Peace Art Exhibition, Seoul

Aug 2009, The Circular Exhibition 2009, Seoul/ New york/ Berlin

July 2009, 12th World Peace Art Exhibition, Seoul


4 Aug 2010, 13th World Peace Art Exhibition, Seoul: Prize

31 July 2009, 12th World Peace Art Exhibition, Seoul: Prize

Visit Williams Art home pageWilliams_Art_Home.html

22 August - 3 September 2013

Private View 21 August 5-7pm