• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2707

    Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

    25 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1144


    Price Realised  


    (b. 1981)
    Fantastic Public Bath with Bari-medion #5
    Korean traditional pigment on hanji
    100 x 100 cm. (39 1/4 x 39 1/4 in.)
    Painted in 2006

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    In today's fast-growing urban society, a mental diversion of Escapism is a common anxiety in which Kim too strives to escape by diving into her visionary fantasy by opting water and bathing as religious and cultural symbolic means to demonstrate that the act of painting is her way to cleanse modern anxiety. With snugly controlled configuration of colors, traditional artisanship of Bhutanese art is evoked, and further accentuated by the religious purification of a bath place with minute bathers impersonating the postures of Buddha, which she shields them with holy Buddhist emblems of Endless Knot to represent harmony with untraceable beginning and end; and also by Golden Fishes to signify joy and freedom. The religious nuance may be clear, but the Korean cultural references also run deeper than the metaphorical contexts of bathing.

    Korean public bath is a cultural and traditional phenomenon. Easily accessible, it is a place for retreat where families bond and friends socialize, a place devoid of judgments, where one's identity is stripped away bare, returning back to the biological nature of literally- being comfortable his or her skin. Thus akin to Christian baptism, the bathers in the canvas in pain now are relieved from their insecurities and alienation that once plagued their unappreciated existence. With her fluent handling of ink and subdued choice of color palette derivedfrom her oriental painting background, she simultaneously invokes benignly graceful patterns of Korean embroidery Subo and the genial yellow and pink tonalities of Bojagi. A warm ambiance is radiated from the canvas through the beige transparency of the bather's skins, inducing a flat resemblance of a cartoon, but her adept application of traditional pigments prevail over its inclination towards a two dimension with Endless Knot composition exuding a perceptual depth into the oeuvre, together with the consistent spherical movement of her visual motifs. Kim fruitfully stabilizes tradition and contemporary into a unique work of her own, moreover balancing an idea that negotiates between reality and unreality, an ideal space for comfort and spiritual healing.


    Song Eun Gallery, Travelogue of Fantastic Public Bath, exh. cat., Seoul, Korea, 2008 (illustrated, pp. 16-17).


    Seoul, Korea, Song Eun Gallery, Travelogue of Fantastic Public Bath, 2008.