BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
BOUNTIFUL — For Yongsung Kim, painting is a way to share God’s love.
The Korean artist, who made a special appearance at the new Havenlight Gallery in Bountiful earlier this month, said that he wants his paintings to help people who are struggling and help them feel more connected to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If they achieve that, he considers them a success.
“Anyone who receives help and comfort through my paintings makes me happy,” said Kim through an interpreter. “If it makes Heavenly Father happy, it makes me even more happy.”
Many of Kim’s paintings are of Jesus Christ, holding children or leading sheep or out under a starry sky. One of his best-known paintings is of Jesus reaching down to lift the viewer up out of the water.
“(The ideas come sometimes) whenever I have sacrament meeting or prayer, sometimes when I have quiet, peaceful times, and sometimes there’s a very busy life around me,” he said.
Kim paints in oils, but uses watercolor technique to give the paintings a luminous effect.
“It has a smooth and soft feeling I hope audiences can feel in the painting,” he said.
Kim started painting with a mission early in life, after feeling lost about what to do with his future.
“Until I graduated from my high school, I wasn’t sure what I should do with my life,” he said. “One day, when I was traveling on a train, I thought ‘This train has a destination. Where am I going?’”
To find the answer to that question, he went to a mountain and asked Heavenly Father in prayer what he should do with his life. Despite the cold, he got the answer he was looking for.
“In my heart, I heard Heavenly Father’s voice,” said Kim. “He said ‘I gave you talent. I want you to use it.’”
Though he’d already enjoyed art for years, he said that his relationship to art changed after that moment.
“After the prayer, my sight and understanding of painting changed,” he said. “Painting became something to share with everyone, and for the Lord.”
He’s heard several stories about people who have been helped by his paintings, including an addict who returned to church and repaired his relationships with his family.
“I want my paintings to give hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and help anyone who is struggling,” he said. “I am happy just with painting itself, but when I see how Heavenly Father works through my paintings, that’s just beyond my words.”
And, if there’s anyone out there who feels as directionless as Kim once did, he hopes that his work can help them find the same certainty he found in prayer.
“If there’s anyone who doesn’t have a purpose in life, my hope is that they can get that purpose from my paintings,” he said.
Four of Kim’s original works will remain on display at the gallery for another week or so, and prints will continue to be on display. Havenlight Gallery is located at 40 W. 500 South in Bountiful.