The English translation of the Korean phrase Shi Jang is “market.” The markets in Korea are the inspiration for Woomin Kim’s ongoing collection, collectively titled Shijang Venture. Kim said in 2021: “That is the place that I used to go on a regular basis rising up. And at any time when I go to Korea, it’s one of many first locations I’m going. […] In my quilts, I describe the completely different sorts of retailers, shops, and materials assemblage you could see in these sorts of open-air markets. It’s such a vibrant place, with a fish market subsequent to a cloth market and all completely different sorts of vitality.” The actual visible abundance she describes might be skilled in her splendidly dizzying debut exhibition, Woomin Kim: The Shijang Project at Susan Inglett Gallery (June 9–July 29, 2022).
Kim is a part of a rising technology of artists from Asia who earned undergraduate levels of their delivery international locations after which immigrated to america to additional their research, and in some instances to remain. After receiving her MFA in 2015 on the College of the Artwork Institute of Chicago, Kim relocated to New York Metropolis, the place she found an equal to Korea’s outside markets in Queens.
The ten collage-like quits within the exhibition, all between 5 and 6 toes in diameter, are polychrome extravaganzas that invite viewers to marvel at what might be achieved with material. Becoming a member of summary kinds with objects as particular as dried fish and leopard-print footwear, Kim’s consideration to element, colour, and texture leads to an enormous stock of things created by means of an imaginative use of distinctive supplies. She possesses a nimble, droll, and acutely sharp sense of mimesis. By incorporating materials which will truly be a part of the merchandise she is representing — a mop or pair of footwear, for instance — she nudges the American trompe l’oeil custom of John F. Peto and William Harnett into recent territory.
On the identical time, Kim’s work pushes again towards such slick portrayals of fabric items as Andreas Gursky’s grocery store pictures, Andy Warhol’s silkscreened Coca-Cola work, and Haim Steinbach’s minimalist shows of commodities. In distinction to Warhol’s insistence on sameness and his flattening of expertise or Gursky’s affiliation of abundance with waste and indiscrimination, Kim exhibits the nomadic aspect of worldwide capitalism, that of the small shopkeeper who runs an outside stall briefly arrange in a delegated a part of a metropolis.
Kim replaces sameness with distinction. In “Shijang: Shoe Retailer” (2021), she has used completely different supplies and patterns to vogue greater than two dozen sorts of footwear, from boots to clogs to sandals. Even when the sample is identical, as in two single boots within the decrease left quadrant, the colours are completely different. Though some producers’ names are scattered all through the show, there is no such thing as a sense that anyone pair is extra fascinating than the others, and there aren’t any designer sneakers. The naked lightbulb hanging from a black wire within the higher proper quadrant establishes the setting. That is about requirements somewhat than excessive vogue. And but, an curiosity in sample and colour is current all over the place.
Kim’s enjoyment of turning a chunk of cloth into one thing as mundane because the sample inside a boot or footwear is clear. That is the alternative of Warhol’s aesthetics of boredom and fascination with mechanical copy. As her works convey, boredom just isn’t an possibility, however a privileged place, when survival in a brand new atmosphere depends upon laborious work. Her artwork relies on the actions of slicing and stitching, of actions we frequently affiliate with making clothes.
Kim’s celebration of another economic system additionally brings to gentle the dedication of many immigrant cultures to keep up sure practices and traditions, equivalent to a area’s delicacies or medicines and cures. Her resistance to the destruction of distinction that Warhol acknowledged as one of many cornerstones that America was constructed on is admirable. Her artwork makes no overt claims to be political, however on so many ranges it’s, from the craft of her quilts to the crafts she represents; from her recognition of on a regular basis life as a continuing battle for financial survival to the pliability and adaptiveness that characterizes many immigrants within the US.
On the identical time, Kim’s use of collage and her hallucinatory juxtapositions of sample and colour rethink elements of the Sample and Ornament motion of the Nineteen Seventies, and its curiosity in several types of Asian artwork. In “Shijang: Ribbon Retailer” (2021), the artist stacks ribbon spools in varied patterns. Regardless of the flatness of her supplies, she composes a shallow area that features cabinets and the sting of a cloth-covered desk, which spans the quilt’s backside edge. The eye paid to one thing as disposable as ribbons, and the way in which Kim arranges them on the desk, underscores a really completely different aesthetic disposition than the standard American emphasis on mass manufacturing. Inside this polyphonic gathering, no sample or colour is overshadowed by one other. Each contributes to your complete composition whereas sustaining its distinct identification. That’s masterful.
Woomin Kim: The Shijang Venture continues at Susan Inglett Gallery (522 West twenty fourth Road, Chelsea, Manhattan) by means of July 29. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.