For her solo exhibition “Rainforest” at the KT&G Sangsangmadang Gallery in 2011, Korean artist Sodam Lim has explained her interest in exploring the intrinsic superiority complex humans in modern societies have over other entities in life such as animals. The machine-like speed and emotionless expression demanded by the fast pace in society, according to Lim, can at once be “seen as one’s strong will in life”, but at the same time, also “ironically recall death.”1 The ambivalence and discrepancy between the two directions are precisely what the artist tries to express through her recent painting works. Specifically, the artist looks into the willful power of image in relation to one’s ability to seek and attain peace and comfort under extreme external circumstances. Born in 1985, Lim represents a young generation of Korean painters born after the 1980s, focusing her artistic practice on the social human condition in a contemporary society marked by advanced technology and gadgets. Having studied Fine Art at the Kookmin University in Seoul, the artist is also known to portray psychological landscapes rendered from real snapshots taken from documentary films, during trips and daily walks.

City Garden from 2011 depicts a scene during a seemingly late night. Plants of all sorts, such as flowers and trees, flourish and dominate against the layer of black paint beneath. Considering Lim’s fascination with the modern world, the row of long vertical flower and tree stems at once resembles a city skyline, brimming brightly against the night sky. The work demonstrates a brilliant use of negative space that sets a dichotomy between light and darkness, fully exemplifying Lim’s careful execution and handling of the oil paint. In terms of technique, the artist employs strong bold lines in outlining the tree branches and flower pedals, at the same time subtly reveals the dripping of the black paint on the top layer. The fluidity of the paint would echo back towards the utmost bare nature of man and his relationship with the surrounding world, serving as an interesting contrast with the painting’s overall pictorial allusion of the cityscape. 

1 Sodam Lim: Rainforest, KT&G Sangsangmadang, p. 36 

Contemporary Asian Art

6 October 2013 | HONG KONG