in New York, NY / United States
12.04.2024 - 14.06.2024 00:00
Kimsooja - Meta-Painting

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present Kimsooja’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. 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 300 sheets of handmade hanji, which took almost 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.

Gallery hours Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm

Exhibition Duration 12 April – 14 June 2024


Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 West 21st Street
10011 New York, NY
United States


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