Life & Style

Korean photographer Kim Honghee’s black-and-white images invite viewers to introspect

One of the images from ‘The Inward Eye’   | Photo Credit: Kim Honghee

“In silence, there ripples sound

In stillness, movement”

These words would best explain what Korean photographer Kim Honghee’s work attempts to capture. More than pictures of landscape, his black and white frames are meditations: a trial and invitation to introspect. In one frame, he freezes a moment outside an empty hermitage that stands against the backdrop of a range of mountains, magnanimous yet quiet. A collection of such photographs of Honghee form The Inward Eye, a virtual video display presented by Chennai-based InKo Centre. Honghee’s style of marrying spirituality with his skill in photography, gives rise to some calming images, and calls for reflection.

Honghee’s tryst with temples in Korea started three decades ago, when he was writing for a newspaper. He recalls, “About 30 years ago, I visited temples across Korea. I wanted to visit them again. I was a young man then and now, I am an old man over 60 years old. However, through photographing this series I realised that I am still a young man who keeps wandering spiritually.” Silence and inner peace seem to be Honghee’s preoccupation when it comes to photography. According to him, peace comes from compassion, and his photography too reflects that very sentiment.

One of the images from ‘The Inward Eye’

One of the images from ‘The Inward Eye’   | Photo Credit: Kim Honghee

Is there a reason behind why he has chosen black and white to tell his stories? Yes, according to Honghee, colours hinder one from approaching the essence. “Black and white consists of masses that lets one reach the essence of what one wants to say. The essence here, being silence, peace and compassion towards all things.” The photographer also plays a lot with light, or rather shadows. “The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. This is a fundamental concept of life itself. I’ve played not only with light but also shadow, the opposite. After all, they have the same origin.”

In this particular series, Honghee draws attention to the precinct surrounding a temple, more specifically, to the hermitages where monks reside. A hermitage, in his words, is “the minds of the temple”. Empty spaces seem to be in focus. But, ‘empty’, in Honghee’s dictionary also means ‘fullness’. When asked about why he chose to document empty spaces, he says, “I want to ask you if I really did photograph empty spaces.”

The Inward Eye is available for viewing in InKo Centre’s YouTube channel

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 2:44:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/korean-photographer-kim-honghees-images-invite-viewers-to-introspect/article32316713.ece

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