Ham Jin, Planet

Ham Jin, Planet

planet (detail) by ham jin

Ham Jin

Planet (detail), 2012

planet by ham jin

Ham Jin

Planet, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012Friday, October 26, 2012


Seoul, South Korea

PKM Gallery | Bartleby Bickle & Meursault (BB&M) are pleased to present Planet, a solo exhibition featuring a new, large-scale sculpture by Ham Jin (b. 1978) in BB&M’s project space from September 7 to October 26, 2012. The work, specifically designed to be suspended in the double-height space at BB&M, is the result of two months of onsite production by the artist.

Best known for miniature tableaus populated by micro-sized figures, Ham Jin first burst onto the Korean art world in 1999 at the tender age of twenty-one, while still in university. He has since become one of the most accomplished young sculptors in Korea, with his work shown to growing acclaim in prominent international venues. Ham has developed a distinctive artistic practice, marked by dark wit, visual invention, and an imagination deeply attuned to beauty, and sometimes horror and conflict, in the most mundane crevices of our everyday environment. Primarily shaped from synthetic clay, his fantastic figures and scenes freely incorporate the detritus of our ordinary world—dustballs, fingernails, even dead insects.

With “Planet,” Ham Jin takes an ambitious step away from the miniature dimensions of his previous work toward not only larger scale but also greater depth in formal elaboration and visual and conceptual references. Growing out of his recent interest in exploring how certain outmoded genres in figurative sculpture could be used to reveal what isn’t normally visible, the spherical form of “Planet” began with the idea to create a large sculptural head, a self-portrait, in fact. But the resulting work is dense with forms and lines that seem to have erupted through the surface and, unfettered by conscious constraints, undergone a chaotic proliferation—masses of cells, sinews, and blood vessels expanding and converging to create strange miniature landscapes, ravines and woods. Evoking the lines of Surrealist drawings as well as the fantastic motifs of Bosch, “Planet” is a wondrously compelling portraiture—if it can be called that—abstracted to near illegibility, a secret symbolic universe of the self.

Minimizing the role of color as a formal element, Ham continues to favor black plasticine as his primary material in order to concentrate the viewer’s perception of the intricately varied forms that accumulate in the composition of his sculptures. Hovering between figuration and abstraction, these works may at first seem dark, perplexing, and bewildering. But gradually the engaged viewer becomes immersed in an intriguing realm that emerges as much in the psyche as in the physical space.

Born in 1978, Ham Jin has exhibited in group shows in prominent venues throughout the world, including Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, (2010); “Lustwarande 08 – Wanderland,” Fundament Foundation, Tilburg, the Netherlands (2008); Rodin Gallery (currently PLATEAU), Samsung Museum, Seoul (2008); Espace Louis Vuitton, Paris (2008); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2005); Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2005); and the Korean Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). His solo exhibitions have been held at PKM Gallery (2011); Miki Wick Kim Contemporary Art, Zurich (2008); Aomori Contemporary Art Center, Aomori, Japan (2007), among others. He has been selected by Jiang Jiehong and Jonathan Watkins to participate in the 4th Guangzhou Triennial in the fall of 2012. He is also slated to have a solo exhibition at Art & Public, Geneva, in the spring of 2013.