Artist’s Reception: Saturday, December 3rd, 6-9 pm
Key-Sook Geum’s sculptures finesse the line between drama and delicacy, presence and immateriality. Exquisitely complex, they evoke the female form and the garments in which it has been displayed throughout history. In her studio in Seoul, South Korea, Geum meticulously bends, twists, and cuts iron wires into intricate filigrees, often incorporating faceted beads to heighten visual glamour. Like other contemporary artists such as Jim Dine and Karen LaMonte, Geum is fascinated by the formal and conceptual possibilities of the empty vestment: a signifier or cipher into which viewers may project their identities, fantasies, and dreams. In Moving in Colors, her exhibition at Gallery Bienvenu, the artist explores the curves and contours of the female figure through the timeless forms of the vest, jacket, and dress. These shapes reach across history and culture, harkening to ceremonial Asian robes and modern-day haute couture.
A professor in the College of Fine Art, University of Hongik (Seoul), Geum imbues her work with an invigorating mélange of Eastern and Western sensibilities. While the pieces display a deep knowledge of Western sculptural and sartorial traditions, they also abound with subtexts drawn from Asian aesthetics, philosophy, and myth. In keeping with the concept of life-breath or “qi,” the works have a kinetic element, fluttering gently with air currents in the room. As viewers approach wall pieces and hanging sculptures, the works tremble ever so slightly, like flower petals kissed by the wings of a hummingbird. “To me,” Geum explains, “the knitted webbing represents the background of chaos, and the human figure represents enlightenment. The viewer fills in the emptiness of negative space with the ideas of naturalism, modesty, elegance, royalty, craftsmanship, and most importantly, a life in harmony with nature.”
Time-intensive and meticulous, the artist’s sculptures are included in notable collections around the world and have been exhibited in cities as diverse as New York, Chicago, Berlin, Vienna, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Katmandu. They engage in a sublime duet with light and shadowplay, effectively turning wall, floor, and ceiling into line drawings as intricate as a spider’s web. There is uncommon grace in these études on the beauty of the human body. In their contours we glimpse an integration that is rare in contemporary art: flair and serenity coexisting in perfect, trembling equipoise.
Gallery Bienvenu hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm. For more information, please contact gallery director Borislava Callan or owner Cathy Bienvenu at 504.525.0518, or visit our website at www.gallerybienvenu.com.