Kimsooja is one of the talented artisans whose works of art we will be able to admire at Art Basel Hong Kong 2019. She was born in 1957 and is a South Korean, multi-disciplinary conceptual artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul. She represented Korea for the 24th São Paulo Biennale in 1998 and the 55th Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion in 2013 and participated in more than 30 international biennials and triennials.
She had solo exhibitions at MoMA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Kunsthalle Wien, Kunsthalle Bern, Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein, Baltic Center for Contemporary Art in UK, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Padliglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan, Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, Musée d’Art Moderne Saint-Étienne, The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, PAC Milan, Daegu Art Museum, ICC Tokyo, CCA Kitakyushu, the Plateau Samsung Museum in Seoul, Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, Centre Pompidou in France, and most recently National Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul, Korea.
Kimsooja studied Western painting at the Hongik University in Seoul and her origin as a painter was a crucial starting point for the development of her art. Kimsooja’s “Sewing” series (1983–1992), her first work with fabric, brought to life an assemblage of fabric creating cruciform structures that synthesized an entangled and knotted vision of the world into a system of horizontals and verticals.
Like the Spatialist painter Lucio Fontana, who pierced the uni-colored canvas with a sharped-edged dagger, Kimsooja also made art that was no longer a screen of illusion but a three-dimensional structure as she weaved through the surface of the work, piercing holes into it.
Kimsooja then initiated a series of site-specific installations that found their origin in the Korean color spectrum (obangsaek). She created sculptures inspired by Korean bedcover cloth bundles which are associated in Korean culture with travel and migration and may also be interpreted in her work as an allusion to the restrictions in female activities.
These bedcovers inspired several sculptures and installation works that Kimsooja titled after the Korean word, bottari, that intimates the idea of travel but also refers to concepts of wrapping and unfolding.
In 1992, the installation Deductive Objects, shown at MoMA, took up an entire brick wall where small torn pieces of used Korean bedcover fabric were inserted by the artist in tiny holes between the bricks. The sculptural elements alongside the wall installation were composed of everyday objects wrapped in Bottari cloth, such as a carrier, a doorframe, a hook, a saw, a spool, a shovel, a clothing rack, or a ladder.
The bottari and the act of travel remained central themes for her work Bottari Truck in Exile (1999), made on the road as a truck heaped with piles of clothing, wrapped in silk bedcovers, travelled from one location to another. Kimsooja dedicated the piece, which was presented at the Venice Biennale, to refugees of the Kosovo war. From then on, she further enhanced her exploration with the art of place and dislocation into the 2000s.
Stay with us to find out more about Art Basel Hong Kong 2019, contemporary art, design and craftsmanship.
See More Related Stories
Art Basel Hong Kong 2019: Collectible Designs in Gallery Sies + Höke
Are You Ready for Art Basel Hong Kong 2019?