30 Aug 2018 — 29 Sep 2018
Suyeon Kim
SPRING PAINTING

It happened in 2017. Suyeon Kim was in Taipei as an artist in residence when her exploration of bookstores won her a Japanese book of erotic depictions. Chunhwa, pronounced shunga in Japanese, are paintings of a man and a woman engaged sexually. Literally meaning spring paintings as euphemism for more licentious topics, the paintings reveal a very human behavior universally shared yet unspoken; the desire for love expressed in flesh. Its sheer candidness almost bears gravitas. Nudes were common even in classical arts, but they had been more discreet and veiled under mythology and history. The carnal flesh in chunhwa is reality expressing itself in its own moment; of sheer physical bliss. It is momentous, yet partakes in neither beginning nor end of a story. When the artist's gaze was caught, it was between clasped hands, and a pair of feet one upon the other, barely under the cover. It felt like love, she recalls.

When Suyeon Kim began experimenting with chunhwa in 2017, she sought means to capture the ephemeral moment with its sentiments of affection and transience. Her paintings featured chunhwa images scrapped here and there, alongside classical sculptures of the West. She was captivated by the fine marble of the pale elegant sculptures encountered at an art museum visit, some years ago in Europe. The image of those sculptures were added in her paintings to loan from the deities that inspired their creation; to borrow the sublimation of human love, otherwise the decadent and finite. Her collection of chunhwa, images of classic sculptures, and images composed in the style of ukiyo-e (浮世? - woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; lit.: images of the floating world) soon changed. To the self-imposed question of "If I were a chunhwa painter, what would I draw, and how would I go about that?" she answered by surreptitiously removed chunhwa that were not of her own.

The , , , 4-piece that she later presented on large canvas features flowers, sculptures, and her personally-created paper figures. According to Kim, it was the first time she painted flowers, and they happened to be lifelike artificial blossoms. It was intentional, as the artist felt that even the most passionate of love between man and woman could not pledge anything beyond this life; temporary by nature, like flower-decorations that wilt and die. The classical sculpture of the West is still recognized as symbol of divinity, of love. The candle sculpture was created in the same vein; the wax melts not, like the artist's longing for love that is never extinguished.

Above works deviate from the artist's more established means of approach. Suyeon Kim painted delicate images of her own paper sculptures; sculptures depicting subjects that she intended to paint. The paper sculptures which had occupied the center of her canvas have been now vacated in favor of collected images of flowers and sculptures. The faux-theatrical prop setup of curtains and the table remain to separate space and objet, but the dissimilar perspectives and light directions of compositional elements, unrealistic proportions and surreal placement of objets, the rough-cut edges around them, no longer focus the gaze as the artist's former portrait-like still-life works had.

is composed of three separate canvases. Each separate, but also part to a three-panel sequence. No longer are her paper sculptures seen here. Her approach of creating sculptures to be painted is no more. Classical sculptures and ornamental flowers are even more prominent. It is not the flesh that bears testimony to the aesthetic essence of love, the strong feelings of bittersweet affection. It is the rootless flower and the marble bust of an unnamed god. The artist's three-panel work also features changes to her compositional approach. is painted with light strides of the brush, which stands in contrast to her past works that were meticulously detailed and layered. Perhaps it was the sheer size of 3-meter real-estate that forbade devotion to a lone objet. Fill the canvas she did. That is significant in itself. Her future works will perpetuate long past her paper sculptures that she had been so partial toward. Suyeon Kim's works have been in some sense, emancipated from objects of devotion, of mediation, and wholesome resurrection. So in a sense, this is her first "real" painted art.

Chunhwa is the motif of this exhibition; love its theme. Nothing is given or taken from that theme. Suyeon Kim admits working with the theme of love itself can be trite, ideological, and maybe even boring in some facetious and ironic way. She is also quick to add that despite that, love remains paramount to humanity. She found fleeting moments of cherished love between the licentious lines of chunhwa. She adopted those moments and sought to present them on her own canvas sans scandal. What the painter does is draw out moments; sometimes to eternity, sometimes to repopulate lost moments with images. Only the painter can do it that way, and that is the only way it is done.
SP13, oil on canvas, 290.9x591cm(3pcs), 2018