24 Feb - 31 Mar 2011

Ha Young Kim

London based South Korean artist Ha Young Kim’s paintings and drawings will be shown from 24 February  till 31 March 2011.

Private View : Wed 23 February 2011 6-10pm

On the ground floor, two large paintings on canvas and a drafting film introduce themes that dominate Kim’s work. Tropical Punch and Only a Little Push (both 2011), are bold images active with high-keyed colours. While the light is shallow, layers of translucent paper give an atmospheric depth. The subject matter is violently visceral. Punches are thrown repeatedly from all directions at once. The brute physicality of the images penetrate the surface, suggesting an emotional and psychological space beyond the picture plane.  Kim’s use of colour relates to “Dan Chung”, a palette used on traditional wooden buildings in Korea and fabrics used in Korean shamanistic rites. Smaller paintings in the same room elaborate on similar forms, but are painted on sheer polyester. Eat In and Out, Mop, Diagnosis and Guinea Pig center on corporeal abstraction; these representations of the body are rollicking. Some part of some person is constantly being crimped or curled or digested, perhaps all three at once.

Upstairs, Lying to Myself, a grid of 49 paintings on paper expand Kim’s subject through variation and repetition. In each painting, two characters appear to harangue a third. What at first seems cute is slowly revealed to be more problematic. Is the face one face, three faces, forty-nine faces, or one hundred and forty seven faces? Chromatically punctuated, and economical, these pictures are individually enigmatic and engrossing in their totality.

Ha Young Kim’s paintings and drawings conjure a hallucinatory space. The rendering in these works is allied to a cartoon sensibility, but the images are intractable. There are no doll-eyed characters primed for projection and desire. Here, Kim offers food and regurgitation or facial distortions and other manipulations of body. “Wish-fulfillment is the meaning of each and every dream,” just as painting materialises the desire of the artist to produce an image. Parallels to dreamwork are evident in Kim’s conflations of uneasy body representations with ambiguous pictorial qualities. In them, action occurs in time which seems to go both forward and back. Simple autonomous characters of manga have been replaced by a zone populated by an uncanny coterie of blank test subjects and floppy globs of stringy tangles. Like peering through the eye-holes of a mask, these works offer an inside-out view of relentless grabbing, poking, prodding, devouring and expelling; cartoonishness that paradoxically invites empathy.