KUALA LUMPUR: As the world’s only gold painting artist, South Korean Kim Il-tae displays his artworks of fearsome dragons and majestic horses at prestigious exhibitions.
For his next subject matter, it will be a passion close to his heart – a mother’s love.
“I want to depict the purest love using the purest metal,” he told The Star at his first solo exhibition in Malaysia, held at Shangri-La Hotel on Saturday.
“I see now that the most devoted and purest of love comes from a mother towards her child.
“A couple’s romantic love is like fire – it fades after a while. A mother’s love, on the other hand, never changes,” said Kim, whose mother passed away five years ago.
Kim said his mother was the one who exposed him to the art world as he joined her classes when he was younger.
When he decided to study art in San Francisco at 33, after establishing himself in the business world, he brought along his mother and wife.
Upon his return to South Korea, Kim was determined to carve a name for himself in the art world by creating gold paintings.
“Art critics called me crazy,” he said. His wife left him when he sold his properties to buy the gold needed to create his artworks.
Kim spent seven years experimenting before he finally perfected the optimal mixture of gold powder, glue and natural oils for his paintings – a mixture he keeps a secret.
Using cutlery and etching tools, Kim crafts artworks with 24-carat gold.
His artworks, which are sold for between US$21,000 (RM86,000) and US$700,000 (RM2.8mil) a piece, were displayed at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London last year.
Buyers include former US president Barack Obama, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and singers Madonna and Psy.
One of his famous gold paintings was of roses, which he said represented the eternal quality of love, and the different facets of being in love.
“The rose expresses the extreme happiness and the extreme sadness felt when one is in love,” he said.
Though he sees his children a few times a week and maintains a good relationship with them, he keeps a relatively lonely existence.
“As an artist, it’s only the wall, the canvas and myself. So, whenever I come out into the public, I feel happy.
“However, because of my career and my art, I have a habit of being alone,” he said.
Kim plans to publish a poetry book with pictures of his gold paintings next month.