Aesop Rhim

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 3, 1995

Aesop Rhim‘s love affair with Chicago began 30 years ago when he immigrated from Seoul, South Korea, to earn his master’s degree at IIT’s Institute of Design. Since then, he has had six one-man shows, all about Chicago.

“I strive to express my love and vision of Chicago,” said Rhim, who cites Picasso as his biggest influence.  “The uniqueness of my work is the interchange of my profession (commercial art) and my expressionist art.”

Rhim’s abstract silk-screened work has won the 60-year-old artist some high-powered supporters. Former Gov. Jim Thompson is a fan, as is Mayor Daley, who proclaimed Sept. 20, 1995, “Aesop Rhim Day.”

“It was definitely an honor,” Rhim said of his day. “Mayor Daley wanted to honor me for exploring the beauty of Chicago.  And I believed I should be honoring Chicago for its beauty.”

His idealization of the city is refreshing, especially for those who’ve grown accustomed to the city’s wonders.  We see barreling L trains on dirty tracks. He creates “Look to the Future” with pristine blue skies viewed through vibrant red tracks. We see skyscrapers. Rhim sees architectural works of art.

“I spend as much time as I can exploring Chicago’s symphonic horizons and then translating that to my serigraphic art,” Rhim said. “I realize that Chicago is too great to explore with my limited expertise, but I will pursue this dream for as long as I can.”

Rhim and his wife, a musician, aren’t disappointed that their two children decided not to follow in their artistic footsteps.

“One of my daughters is a teacher and the other is a counselor at a hospital,” he said.  “They’re both pretty good at art and music, but we tried to encourage them to do other things than art.” Laughing, he added, “And they did.”

The artist already is working on his next collection for 1996. The subject?  Chicago, of course.

(Visit Rhim’s website at:


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