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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...

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Sydney Lowdown: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Sydney Lowdown: Exhibitions to See 6 Sep 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The fifth edition of Sydney Contemporary will take place once again at Carriageworks between 12 and 15 September 2019, with Spring 1883 bringing together a cohort of 27 galleries from across Australia and the region to inhabit rooms at the Establishment Hotel from 11 to 14 September 2019, uniquely presenting contemporary works propped up on...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Suyoung Kim

b. 1971

Suyoung Kim's (김수영) paintings have predominantly focused on high-rise buildings, closing in on their facades over time to create works that scrutinise the geometric elements of architecture as well as broader conceptual frameworks. Kim's work often explores the boundaries between the figurative and the abstract while experimenting with the idea of representation.

Upon receiving her BFA from Seoul National University in 1994, Kim moved to Germany to study first at Hochschule für bildende Künste Braunschweig then at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from where she graduated with an MFA in 2004. In her early works painted in Germany such as RWI Headquarters 2 and 3 (2002), the building is seen from a distance and with a reflection of a nearby structure in its glass facade. With a reduced palette of grey and white that blends the building with the light grey sky in the background, Kim captures the characteristics of her subject—vertical columns that seemingly penetrate the entire establishment and rows of small, rectangular windows—while emphasising the materiality of paint.

Around 2003, Kim shifted towards painting close-ups of the facades of buildings. Her subjects primarily comprised architecture in a style known as the modern or International Style, which developed in the 1920s and 1930s and was defined by the use of then-new materials of mass-produced iron and steel, reinforced concrete and glass. With an emphasis on the potential of its materials, International Style resonated with Kim's concerns for the properties of her medium of paint. Paintings from this period include Weissenhof House 1 (2003), depicting the renowned white facade of a 1972 project designed by Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Cité du Refuge (2004), based on Le Corbusier's first urban housing project. In both works, Kim replicates the repetitive elements of her subjects with a focus on their modern architectural system of standardised units and dimension, creating images that are increasingly flat, minimalist and grid-like rather than representational. Her attention to the formal structures of her subjects triggers associations with the typological photographs of industrial buildings by Bernd and Hilla Becher, who also studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and founded the Düsseldorf School of Photography in the 1970s. Kim's interest in modern buildings continued after she relocated to Seoul in 2004, where she began painting the same building at different times of the day. In the close-up of the facade in Dongbu Insurance buildings 11am (2008), for example, each colour is sharply divided from the next whereas in Dongbu Insurance building midday (also 2008), the subject is seen farther away and its colours are less cleanly applied. The paintings are, however, recognisable as the same establishment by their distinctively shaped windows—square with rounded corners on the top—which Kim individualises by using different tonalities and details.

Over time, Kim has become even more focused on the formal elements of her painting than the subject itself, gradually removing representation from her oeuvre. In a painting titled Two Sides (2010), the canvas is divided into two planes of an unmodulated turquoise on the right and a grid-like facade of an anonymous building on the left. This is in stark contrast to The Headquarters Hankook Newspaper (2006), which features a similar composition but hints at an identifiable subject. Kim further renders her works neutral by titling them in numbers such as Work No. 46 (2017) or Work No. 52 (2018), in which several facades are depicted in a row.

She has held solo exhibitions at ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul (2013, 2011, 2008); Kumho Museum of Art Seoul (2007); Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul (2004) and Galerie Ricarda Fox, Essen-Werden (2002) among others. Her work has also been exhibited at Seoul Museum of Art (2011); Busan Museum of Modern Art (2005); Space CAN Beijing (2014); and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (2003) among others, and is in the collections of SeMA; Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; and Artist Pension Trust Collection, New York.

Kim lives and works in Seoul.

Lee Seolhui | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimUntitled, 2013 Oil on paper
45 x 38.8 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Untitled by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimUntitled, 2013 Oil on paper
38.9 x 31.4 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Untitled by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimUntitled, 2013 Oil on paper
38.9 x 23.1 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Untitled by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimUntitled, 2013 Oil on paper
50 x 36.5 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Untitled by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimUntitled, 2013 Oil on paper
25 x 34 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Work No. 37 by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimWork No. 37, 2015 Oil on Linen
72.8 x 60.8 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Work No. 36 by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimWork No. 36, 2015 Oil on Linen
85 x 75 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery
Work No. 41 by Suyoung Kim contemporary artwork
Suyoung KimWork No. 41, 2016 Oil on Canvas
60 x 91 cm
ONE AND J. Gallery

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Dongwook Suh, Suyoung Kim, Flashback at ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul
Open Now
5 September–5 October 2019 Dongwook Suh, Suyoung Kim Flashback ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Suyoung Kim, View & Hide at ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul
Closed
6 October–11 November 2018 Suyoung Kim View & Hide ONE AND J. Gallery, Seoul

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