Critics’ Picks

Shin il Kim, Twin Writing (detail), 2013, transparent polycarbonate, 35 x 26 x 2”.


Shin il Kim

Space Cottonseed
47 Malan Road #01-24 Gillman Barracks
January 17 - February 16

At first glance, the stacked sculptures in Shin il Kim’s current exhibition, “Ready Known,” appear purely abstract. But linger a little longer and the letter M emerges from the dense thicket of coated stainless steel. Behind that is an I, then an N and a D, these last letters coming out quicker than the first. The piece—Mind (all works 2013)—is placed on top of Belief, which spells out its title in a similar fashion. Both words are central to the show, which comprises fourteen new works that aim to highlight the distance between knowledge and wisdom—between logical categorization and intuitive perception. The suffix ism also appears throughout the show: It represents the crux of what the artist seeks to challenge in this gathering of his letter sculptures. Though each work varies in size and material, together they express Kim’s interest in releasing human experience from names and definitions, and encouraging a more instinctive approach to the world.

Among the other recent works on display, one highlight is Twin Writing. Here, two abstract sculptures, made of transparent polycarbonate prisms with rainbow-colored edges, are mounted side by side and framed. To create the shapes, Kim wrote sentences in Korean and traced the outlines of the paragraphs; the piece thus subverts linguistic structures by translating them to abstract form. The neat shapes, clean lines, and glints of color add up to a quiet appeal. In A Poem, Kim followed a similar method with a full piece of verse, yielding an effect that is bolder and more obscure than that of Twin Writing. Viewers might at first see a horse, then a rider. The temptation is ever to find a proper shape, a definition—a quest that remains elusive.