Artist fuses east, west in lat­est body of work

JoongAng Daily - - Culture Art - BY MOON SO-YOUNG symoon@joongang.co.kr

Nam Kyung-min is well known for her se­ries of paint­ings that de­pict Western art masters’ rooms in a sym­bolic, imag­i­nary form.

And now, she has cre­ated her own ver­sion of old Korean masters’ rooms — images that are be­ing shown to the pub­lic for the ! rst time in a solo ex­hi­bi­tion at the Sav­ina Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art in cen­tral Seoul.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, ti­tled “Stay­ing in the Mind­scape,” fea­tures 15 of Nam’s new paint­ings. They in­clude pieces that have reimag­ined the rooms of il­lus­tri­ous Joseon Dy­nasty (13921910) painters such as Shin Saim­dang, Kim Hong-do, Shin Yun-bok and Jeong Seon.

The rooms in Nam’s work also in­clude the masters’ art within them, re­sult­ing in images of paint­ings of paint­ings. But the lay­ers are more com­pli­cated than that. For ex­am­ple, it is un­clear whether or not Jeong’s fa­mous land­scape paint­ing in an im­age by Nam is a pic­ture hang­ing in his imag­i­nary room or a land­scape seen through its win­dow. Nam has de­lib­er­ately mixed per­spec­tives and re­moved shades to cre­ate am­bi­gu­ity.

The paint­ings seem not only an homage to the masters but also part of Nam’s de­sire to ar­chive their work in the vir­tual spa­ces of her work. Such a de­sire is high­lighted in “Chaek­gado — An Il­lu­sion About the Sub­lime.” This paint­ing com­bines the mo­tifs of — a tra­di­tional Korean still-life genre that de­picts shelves ! lled with books, sta­tionery and an­tiques — and van­i­tas.

Van­i­tas, which means van­ity in Latin, is a still-life genre that was mainly popular in the 17th-cen­tury Nether­lands. Th­ese paint­ings de­pict a skull, a can­dle, an hour­glass and other ob­jects that sym­bol­ize hu­man be­ings mov­ing to­ward the in­evitabil­ity of death, along with splen­did goods re­lated to van­ity.

Chaek­gado were popular in the 18th- and 19th-cen­tury Joseon era, re" ect­ing the in­tel­lec­tual ap­petite of the peo­ple of the times.

Nam’s chaek­gado shows the artist’s de­sire to cu­mu­late and com­bine the knowl­edge and aes­thet­ics of the East and West in her own vir­tual space with bright col­ors and tones.

“Yes, I think I have an archival de­sire,” laughed Nam. “I of­ten put a skull in my paint­ing to awaken my­self . . . And my paint­ings have some mo­tifs of my own such as a wing. It sym­bol­izes hope and help me re­call my­self as an artist.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion runs through Dec. 19. Ad­mis­sion is 3,000 won ($2.70) for adults. The mu­seum is closed on Mon­day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. For de­tails, visit

or call (02) 736-4371.

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