nam kim

Snakes have legs

12 january – 24 february 2024
Robert Grunenberg is delighted to announce “Snakes have legs” by Nam Kim.

Nam Kim
Snakes have legs
Robert Grunenberg
12.01.2024 – 24.02.2024

We are pleased to present Snakes have legs, the first solo exhibition of Korean painter Nam Kim at Robert Grunenberg. It is also her first solo presentation in Germany. Born in the USA in 1991 and raised in Korea, Kim studied painting and art history at Ewha Womens University in Seoul and then painting with Kirsi Mikkola at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. 

Kim combines a wide range of influences in her work. Her paradisiacal landscapes, in which naked, androgynous or female figures gather in seemingly utopian communities, are inspired by Korean and Japanese pop culture as well as Minhwa, an ancient, traditional folk art that dates back to prehistoric times and was refined in the 14th century. All Minhwa paintings are characterised by bright colours and a cheerful mood. Most were painted by anonymous artists for specific purposes, as lucky charms or as protection against misfortune or evil. In these paintings, plants, animals and objects are always given a specific meaning, such as the lotus, which embodies purity, or the pine tree, which symbolizes longevity.

Her painting is inspired by European art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as modern artists such as Henri Matisse, Marsden Hartley, Paula Modersohn-Becker and David Hockney. In doing so, she reflects in an ambivalent way the longing for a return to ‘origins’. Kim’s hybrid painting oscillates between intuition, self-reflection, authentic expression and a mediatised, increasingly virtual world in which images and identities are recycled, recombined, morphed and simulated. 

The often muscular, heroic figures appear as painterly avatars of the artist herself. The bodies are physical, but at the same time purely formal elements, building blocks for the composition. They suggest community but are isolated, absorbed in contemplation of their inner selves. On closer inspection they appear strangely flat, not at all physical, becoming, like the landscape, part of an all-over of ornaments and geometric patterns, serving the atmosphere, the construction of the picture. In fact, Kim begins her paintings as a form of abstract gestural painting, from which she models and carves out the bodies in an almost sculptural manner. Her non-binary protagonists reflect a kind of Modernity 2.0 in a very contemporary way, a notion of the self that changes with every light, forming temporary communities that constantly produce new, multi-perspective constellations.

12 January 2024
6 – 9 PM

Exhibition on view
12 January – 24 February 2024

For more information, please contact the gallery:  mail@robertgrunenberg.com

This exhibition is supported by