From a movie star to a full-time artist, showcasing critical work

Winning Culture and Arts Award for practicing love and sharing and expanding artistic horizons 홍기인 기자l승인2024.01.17l수정2024.01.17 10:52







On December 23, 2023, The 1st BCFH Cultural Awards ceremony was held at Bundang Central Presbyterian Church. The awards ceremony was organized to boost the morale of those who contributed to the development of Korean culture and arts as Christians and to spread the culture of humanity. Installation artist and painter Rina Kang is a Christian who has been recognized for expanding her artistic horizons by practicing love and sharing in her daily life. She was a popular movie star in the 80s and 90s. Starting with director Kim Cheong-gi’s Ureme, she won the Best New Actress Award at the 27th Grand Bell Awards in 1989, and played lead roles in Seoul Rainbow and Byun Geum-ryeon in the 90s. She has now quit her acting career and turned to an artist, producing significant works, and is having an invitational exhibition at <Gallery Peelapp> in Yongin City at the moment. 


From a movie star to artist, overcoming challenges to veto to art

Kang was dubbed the Korean Marlene Monroe of the 1990s. She suddenly became an artist after a decade-long hiatus from film. After making a few politically charged films satirizing the military regime, she was overwhelmed by an unknown fear: that she might become the tragic heroine of a screenplay. She majored in oriental painting at Hongik University and was often asked by people to choose “movie or art” while making movies. She eventually gave up on film and returned to art, which she has been pursuing ever since. About 20 years ago, the myocardial infarction surgery of her older brother, who was a film manager and guardian, led her to choose the heart as the subject of her work and became a subject of reflection on life. The icon of Marilyn Monroe, a global icon throughout the ages, emerged as the artist’s main subject matter. Numbers expressed in graffiti also became an inevitable subject matter, further imprinting her as an artist due to her dual concept. 


Prominent works such as circular installation works, and the power of love 

Kang once saw the various versions of deconstructions of physics theories, formulas for creating nuclei, and combinations of numbers as an extension of her paintings, and released them on canvas. The reason for this was the belief that the relativity formula itself is the most creative art and empowering. As an unmarried woman who had long since given up her famous movie star status and lived apart from her family, she said, “It was never easy to be thrown into the gaze of an unknown number of people who didn’t know me, but who might know me.” The “missile” that became the iconography of the work many years ago was also completed for the reason that she perceived it as an object with specific power and ability to physically protect herself. Another icon in the work, the movie camera ARRI, is still a reflection of herself as an actress in the film era, and she identifies with it. The reptilian lizard on top of the oxygen tank climbing the wall of the stairs is no different from herself. Even if you can no longer climb, reach heaven, or have no space to stay, you can look out the window of a higher place and pray to be free from the current time and space. Kang says “Love is the giving of value, not the seeking of value.” Her first exhibition, DUNAMIS, focused on the power of love, embodying the heart of love in its many forms of all-encompassing generosity, and the image of a camera looking at the world and a missile in a protective role became her signature. The pandemic has been a difficult journey, and the love heart symbol is an attempt to convey healing and recovery visually and indefinitely. 

From her interest in physics formulas to her work on missiles, hearts of love, and even the dog she came to live with, she became a protector and symbol for the lonely woman.


Received the Culture and Arts Award for love, sharing, and art in everyday life

Kang has participated in over 23 invitational and solo exhibitions, and over 100 group exhibitions and art fairs. She participated in a children’s art class at the Full Gospel Church in 2003 and has been a member of Art Vision, an organization affiliated with Onnuri Church, since 2014. She won the Song Eun Foundation Art Award (Dream of Dabotap) in September 2002, the LA Pasadena Society of Artists Certificate of Award (GRAFITTI) in January 2003, and the Gold Award at the Seoul World Art Festival (Heolgwan Department Store) in June 2009. She also won the Incarnation Culture and Arts Foundation Arts Award in October 2018, and advanced to The 1st BCFH Cultural Awards (Talent Support) in December 2023. One of her favorite memories was the Rainbow Exhibition, where artists visited underprivileged people and orphanages and fed them with rainbow rice tea, and she loved the warmth that encompassed everything but the artwork. Her circular installations are still in the collections of Daejeon and Hongneung KAIST, POSCO, and others. The stainless steel hemispherical piece is represented as a planet, and the blue light inside adds to the vibrancy of a newborn super planet. Numerical doodles are an interpretation of her subconscious life and a release of energy. Above it, a brain cell in the shape of a human in bronze sends the message that humans are the best of all living things. “No matter how much the world changes, humans are still the masters.” says Kang.

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