13 Oct 2022 — 12 Nov 2022

 Ha Sang Rim's page
Ha Sang Rim
Solo Exhibition

Plants, often their flowers, catch the artist’s gaze. They inspire and inform her works. Plum blossoms welcome spring, bursting into a flourish of full bloom as if to celebrate the passing of what is gone and to welcome the coming of another season - a new life. For the artist, these blossoms were a reminder of life’s wonders and the circular and regressive order of this reality. Throughout history, humanity has observed looked to flora - the seeds, roots, leaves, stems, flowers and plant life - to learn the most fundamental shapes and forms, as well as broader truths that resonate with life beyond the self. Paying attention to the primordial identity of life, rooted unfathomably deeper than the distance of dissimilarity of the human and plant form. That was how she found humanity within the flora.

Ha Sang Rim was looking at plum blossoms when she noticed that the petals are arranged in a centrifugal manner. In her newest paintings, this centrifugal motif is repeated, conjuring the swirling centrifugal arrangement of flower petals. The sketch undergoes several adjustments by hand before the motif can be transposed unto the canvas, where the artist applies fine line tape along the lines. She then applies solid colors to the surface and the lines. She has long been painting with thin yet crisply clear lines, and the tape was taken up later as a useful tool.

Her use of tape comes from her previous works depicting plant leaves. In those works, Ha Sang Rim photographed plants and reproduced them as realistically as she could, on canvas. She had wanted to observe and learn nature’s way with lines, rather than painting lines based on her own way of lines. As the lines in her latest works are almost entirely freed from reference to photographs. Indeed, all lines are of her own doing, from what she felt inside. The line draws out from within her, the thin thready lines, swimming and dancing in a spectacle of no straight lines, like ink drips in water.

Drawing with lines was the most basic form of art. It is a most prototypal form. In fact, prehistory - time before written records - is in that form. Our prehistoric ancestors too, must have sensed the joy and even pleasure through the practice of lines on surface, trying to capture the essence of an object in a flowing and singular manner. Ha Sang Rim pored over nature and her designs for the prototypal forms and lines she sought to draw on canvas. Nature’s lines were not only found in the centrifugal arrangement of petals, but also in the furtive, fractally venated undersides of plant leaves. Ha’s latest works trail the venations of leaves and petals, naturally fluid and gentle, yet crisp and clear in contour. There is no elaboration, there is no flourish of blossom, yet there is the evenly balanced spread of life and nutriment across the entire surface. Lines drawn of flora on canvas are not of its outer beauty or of particular form. Rather, it is something of abstracted higher order, of its essence. What is life’s essence but the deepest groove, the surest of lines, the most iterated path of each and all species blessed with life? And with life, we too, are blessed by it.

These paintings are grounded in Ha Sang Rim’s observation of flower petals, but they are drawn in line and elevated to the wonder of life. Somewhere in between those fine lines, flowers gain meaning beyond a species within the flora. They expand into a splay of life, of a cosmos. Clear lines on infinite space form a venation of blossoms, of thriving human existence, and of all life. With enough imagination, the lines may inspire a photo-synesthesia of other dimensions, such as sprawling urban streets or aerial shots of a crested mountain range.

This solo exhibition by Ha Sang Rim is her first to present original works, in ten years. Her last solo presentation was in 2012, where she presented a series of paintings, untitled individually albeit under themes of groves and thickets. The past decade has been a welcome and necessary furlough, to attend to personal matters. These lines drew her back to normalcy, to a familiar daily routine, she says. Familiarity for the artist is to observe the other, to find a resonant frequency, to seek and recognize its essence through that resonance, and to provide it with tangible form upon the canvas. Familiarity is to connect with her neighboring lives and vitality, and to give form and embody what comes her from her own. To be a self, to connect with the other, the outside world, to respire with it. That is both the reality and metaphor of an artist, human life, and all living things.
Installation view