Korean artist

Kim Joon | Sundaram Tagore gallery

by Liz on November 1, 2010

in Art & Design

Art changes as it is poured into changing civilizations. After painting came photography, which came of age in that precarious period prior to World War II, and developed exponentially thereafter. And just as art pessimists bemoaned the end of art, 3D computer graphics arrived to save the new century.

An exaggeration of course, but that’s been digital artist Kim Joon’s credo for the last 14 years. And that credo has served him and his admirers quite well. Kim’s art may hold a haunting resemblance to photographs in anatomical detail, but snapshots they are not. The anonymous but titillating bodies that populate Kim’s 3D computer graphics provoke a little blush and a whole lot of desire, while the symbolic digital tattoos provide meaning and adornment to the vessels portrayed.

In his most recent series Kim presents the human body as hollow bodies of porcelain, covered not only in the traditional patterns of fine bone china, but also the motifs of Korean folk paintings and Buddhist artistry. These patterns may strike some as exotic, but for Kim they seem to remain comfortably familiar, while still maintaining a mysterious, talisman-like quality.

Kim’s faceless bodies were strewn along the clean lines of the Sundaram Tagore gallery when I visited on opening night, his clear plastic canvasses blending quite seamlessly with the gallery’s stark white walls. His pictures evoked sterile serenity while capturing elements of the erotic and esoteric. Beneath their placid surface however, Kim’s gently frozen bodies seemed to be harboring some wonderfully wicked secrets.

Kim Joon : Fragile is on display at the Sundaram Tagore gallery from October 14 to November 13.

Visitors on opening night.

Ebony Run (2008)

Fragile - Chunyang on the Limoge (2009-2010)

Fragile Holy Plants (2010)




You may have noticed that I’ve been on an art run lately — blogging about Asian contemporary artists whose presence in New York is remarkably ubiquitous. It’s also gallery season in the city, something I discovered here, which means an outpouring of talent in every gallery in Chelsea (come for the art! stay for the champagne!). What’s not to indulge?

Do Ho Suh has become something of a household name in international art circuits. In the past, he’s used a variety of media, including military dog tags and nylon mesh, to evoke the biographical while creating some of the most unforgettable art created in the last 15 years. So imagine my surprise, and slight disappointment, to discover Suh’s new project at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, a sliver of space in Soho. No dramatic installations, no diminutive rubber people holding up heavy plates of glass. Was Suh’s fun days coming to an end?

Suh, it turns out, is a little homesick. Well, maybe not homesick, but trying to reconcile the dichotomy of his life. Suh was born in Korea and studied art in both Korea and the United States. He has studios in New York and Seoul. He probably speaks both Korean and English. I could go on, but the moral of the story is, he’s walking a tight rope between cultures, and dare I say, universes.

Which is why it’s only logical his perfect home would be situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a solitary outpost smack dab at the center of his imagination. For two years, his imagination has led him and a team of researchers, architects, and designers to create four bridges to connect Seoul and New York. The video shows how the bridges would criss-cross between the two cities:

3D rendition of the undulating bridge support:

Each design factors in specific environmental and oceanographic conditions: ocean current, tide, wind, and temperature, as well as political conditions on the Korean peninsula. That basically means staying away from zones of missile testing.

Rough sketches of Suh’s proposed bridge support. Suh’s notes roughly translate to
How will the bridge stay in place?
Method 1. Completely affix the bridge to the bottom of the ocean bed. A bridge strong enough to withstand hurricanes, tide, wind, and rain.
Method 2. A bridge that floats on the ocean. Will need capacity to always stay on the surface of the water.

My favorites were these sketches of the bridge’s propulsion system, reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of once inconceivable inventions. I like to think Suh was inspired by the humble jellyfish in the design of the propulsion system.

A Perfect Home: The Bridge Project is on view at the Storefront for Art and Architecture from September 15 to December 7.