'I see people; they look like trees walking around.' (Mark 8:24)
STPI is proud to present Random Life, the first-ever solo exhibition in Singapore by widely respected Korean multi-disciplinary artist Kim Beom. A highly sought-after name within the international art community, Kim is fast becoming one of the most important figures of his generation and Korean art.
In a strikingly rare and singular occasion, Kim steps out of his usual solitary working process to create Random Life in collaboration with the STPI team of printers and papermakers. The exhibition confronts viewers with a world of visual riddles and illusions created in the artist's characteristically comic and subversive style.
For Kim, playful imagery is a tool with which he compels the audience away from taking things at face value, and instead, to being more attentive and critical in observing the world around them.
The new series of 'Paper Wrapped' sculptures is left deliberately ambiguous; everyday products are camouflaged under paper pulp, leaving only their silhouettes as clues for interpretation. Denied of key visual cues, ordinary and recognizable items such as chocolate bars, cup noodles and stain removers morph into mysterious, abstract sculptures.
This same concept also underlies the 'Untitled' series of lithographs, where a composition of geometric silhouettes and mirror writing plunges monochromatic abstract forms into absurd contexts, ranging from the front toe of a lion standing on a miniature axe that was lost by a tourist from Hawaii, to a bud who receives a package and tries to read the name of the sender. The same witty absurdity carries on to the cyanotype and Vandyke prints, where he presents the architecture blueprint of an imaginary residential watchtower complex, whose sole purpose is for security guards to watch over one another.
'There is an interesting contrast between the humourous tone and theme of the show, and (Kim Beom’s) serious, methodical approach towards the creation of the works,' STPI Chief Printer Eitaro Ogawa points out, 'His technical choices are precise to the millimetre. This highly detail-oriented manner of working means that the Creative Workshop team had to make many adjustments to meet his very specific vision.'
Beguiling and considered, Random Life forms one of STPI’s 15th year highlights, ushering visitors into an unknown world rigged with false familiarity, where 'what you see is not what you see'.
Kim Beom (b. 1963, Seoul) currently lives and works in Seoul, where he received his BFA and MFA from Seoul National University in 1986 and 1988, respectively. In 1991, Kim received a second MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, where he continued to live and work throughout the 1990s. Through an expansive practice that spans drawing, sculpture, video, and artist books, Kim contemplates a world in which perception is radically questioned. His visual language is characterised by deadpan humour and absurdist propositions that playfully and subversively invert expectations. Notable solo exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; the Hayward Gallery, London; REDCAT Gallery, LA; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Artsonje Center, Seoul; Sun Gallery, Seoul; and Trans Hudson Gallery, New York. Group exhibitions include: Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; UB Art Galleries, University of Buffalo, Buffalo; Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea; MSGSU Tophabe-I Amire Culture and Arts Center, Istanbul; PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Seoul Museum of Art; Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Artspace, Auckland; MACBA, Barcelona; Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam; and Arnolfini, Bristol.
In addition to being featured prominently in recent surveys of contemporary art from Korea at such venues as the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, his work has been included in such notable international biennales as the Sharjah Biennale (2015), Media City Seoul (2010), Venice Biennale (2005), Istanbul Biennial (2003), Taipei Biennial (1998) and Gwangju Biennale (1997, 2012). Collections include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Museum für Kommunikation, Bern; the Seoul Museum of Art; the Ho-Am Art Museum, Seoul; Artsonje Center, Seoul; the Horim Museum, Seoul; and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwachun.
Press release courtesy STPI.