Now open: Kimsooja, 'Meta-Painting' at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

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Now open: Kimsooja, 'Meta-Painting' at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Installation view, Kimsooja, Meta-Painting, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2024. Photo by Pierre Le Hors.

NEW YORK, NY.- Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is presenting Kimsooja’s first solo exhibition with the gallery on view April 12 through June 14, 2024. This marks Kimsooja’s first solo exhibition in New York in almost 20 years.

Since the early 1980s, Korean conceptual artist Kimsooja has used performance, film, photography, sculpture and site-specific installations to poetically meditate on the notion of painting through the language of cultural traditions in her native land, as well as the human condition via principles of “non-doing” and “non-making.” This exhibition features examples from several major bodies of work including To Breathe (2003-2024); Bottari (1992-2024); Deductive Object (1990-2024); and Meta-Painting (2019-2024).

The bottari—a traditional Korean bundle used to wrap and protect personal belongings—has become a central form, both physically and conceptually, in Kimsooja's practice. Representative of essential belongings and a nomadic lifestyle, the bottari is also a metaphor that refers to the universal concept of home and migration, but also to a transitory state.

Extending the bottari concept to the exterior and interior of the gallery, a two part iteration of To Breathe wraps the gallery space in various forms of light, offering a transformative experience and a meditation on painting that embodies the artist’s enduring interest in the dualism of life and art. As light enters through the gallery’s windows, it becomes refracted by a special film that transforms the natural light into iridescent landscapes that change throughout the day. In the main exhibition space, a mirrored platform folds the architecture of the gallery and offers the viewer a chance to engage more deeply with the surroundings, giving them space for reflection and contemplation. In the center of the platform, light is projected from above, creating a floating tableau of color that slowly progresses through the visible spectrum. By painting with light, Kimsooja expands the traditional notion of painting, transforming the surface into an ever-changing color field.

In the upstairs gallery, a series of new Meta-Paintings are suspended from the ceiling and accompanied by wrapped bundles of the same material, echoing the bottari form. The Meta-Paintings divulge a historically prescient dissolution of painting by prefacing material as spiritual enlightenment. The material itself is linen spun from flax that Kimsooja planted, cultivated, and harvested on the occasion of her exhibition at the Wanås Konst Sculpture Park in Sweden in 2020. Continuing to reconstruct painting as a life-generating cycle, the unpainted canvas investigates the conceptual relationship between painting, agriculture, and textile.

Kimsooja’s sculptural wrapped painting Deductive Object suggests a totality that alludes to birth and death. The ovoid shape was inspired by the Brahmanda stone (“cosmic egg”) which in Indian mythology is believed to stand at the origin of creation. Conceptualized as a bottari and a painting that does not reveal its surface, the deep black absorbs ambient light so the mirrored surface below enfolds the physical space around it.

Deductive Object: (Un)fold comes in the form of handmade hanji (Korean rice paper). The crumbled rice paper has absorbed the shape of the artist’s hand as the paper was formed into a sphere and subsequently unfolded. These works are on view alongside Meta-Painting, a sculptural stack of 500 sheets of handmade hanji, which tookalmost a year to dry into the textural slab.

Across all mediums and with material acuity, Kimsooja ponders what is human—life, death, loss, yearning, beauty, routine, growth—connecting the individual experience and global concepts with a discernible perception of the everyday, gaining insight into our existence and the world in which we live.

Born in 1957 in Daegu, Korea, Kimsooja lives and works in Seoul, Paris, and New York. Since the 1980s, Kimsooja’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in major international museums, as well as in more than 40 biennials, triennials, and large-scale site-specific projects. In 2013, Kimsooja represented Korea in the 55th Venice Biennale. Currently in Paris, Kimsooja’s To Breathe – Constellation is on view at Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection.

Other recent solo exhibitions include Thread Roots, Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden (2024); (Un)folding Bottari, Humboldt Forum, Berlin (2023); Weaving The Light, Cisternerne, Frederiksberg Museums, Copenhagen (2023); Sowing into Painting, Wanås Konst, Wanås, Sweden (2020); Traversées/ Kimsooja, Poitiers, France (2020); Kimsooja: Archive of Mind, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (2019); KIMSOOJA - Archive of Mind, MMCA, Seoul, Korea (2016); Kimsooja: Thread Routes, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain (2015); Kimsooja - To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France (2015); Unfolding, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2013); Kimsooja: A Needle Woman, Miami Art Museum, Miami, Florida (2012); Kimsooja: A Needle Woman, Baltic Center, UK (2009); Kimsooja, Magasin lll, Stockholm (2006); Kimsooja, Journey into the World, EMST, Athens (2005); Kimsooja, Conditions of Humanity, MAC Lyon, PAC Milan, Museum Kunstpaladt, Dusseldorf (2023-2024); Kimsooja, A Needle Woman, Kunsthalle, Bern (2021); Kimsooja, A Needle Woman, MoMA PS1, New York (2001), among others.

Permanent and long-term installations are on view at the Metro station at Mairie de Saint-Ouen, Paris, France (2023); Metz Cathedral, France (2022); Oude Vest, Leiden, The Netherlands (2022); Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea (2021); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2019); Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Herning, Denmark (2017); Mariposa Land Port of Entry, Nogales, Arizona (2012); and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, Washington (2011).

Kimsooja’s work can be found in the permanent collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea; Seoul Museum of Art, Korea; Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; K21 Kunstsammlung, Dusseldorf, Germany; M+, Hong Kong; The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Museo d'Art Contemporanea Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon (FNAC), France; Musée MAC/VAL, Val de Marne, France; Museum of Modern Art, St. Etienne, France; MUDAM, Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM - Luxembourg), Luxembourg; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, Art Gallery New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, EMST, Athens, Greece; Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany; among many others.

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