Whitehot Magazine

Kim25: The boundary of uncertainty at Mizuma & Kips

KIM25, "Then when luck comes you are ready." The old man and the sea, 2021, oil on canvas, 31.4 x 42.1 in. Courtesy of Mizuma & Kips.

KIM25: The boundary of uncertainty

Mizuma & Kips 

December 8, 2021 through January 2, 2022

By ROBERT CURCIO, January 2022

In her debut American solo exhibition at Mizuma & Kips, NYC, the artist known as Kim25 presents fifteen paintings in “The boundary of uncertainty.”  The South Korean born and based artist paints seascapes that have truly little to do with the sea. They are “scapes” at the boundary of abstraction and representation, an area of uncertain personal/inside and larger/outside realities awash in vast fields of vibrant color. 

From serene ripples to treacherous waves, Kim25’s insightfully builds her waves from multiple layers of text from classics such as Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, but also from 19th century literature by the likes of Arthur Rimbaud and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Like the author’s texts, the delicate gestural strokes forming the waves evoke human desire and weakness.

The tranquility of ”I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale,” 2021, with its gentle rolling waves, calm horizon and soft lavender sky brings a moment of self-reflection at sunrise or sunset while surrounded by the vastness of the water. The formal almost minimal construction of the vertical painting has a square of a thin wash of lavender for the sky sits atop a deep dark rich purple sea full of brushstrokes and text fragments with a hazy yellow horizon bisecting the canvas. That boundary or delineation between sky and sea is also between man and madness since KIM25’s text elements for this painting are from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The whole painting could be a metaphor of one pondering the perils of chasing their own great white whale. 

Kim25, "I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale." Mobidic, 2021, oil on canvas, 63.8 x 44.1 in. Courtesy of Mizuma & Kips.

“Then when luck comes you are ready,” 2021, from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one of the smaller paintings in the exhibit. However, with its horizontal delineation and overall grey tonality, Kim25 conjures a limitlessness unmatched by her other larger paintings in the exhibit. The top two thirds of the painting features menacing grey and black clouds coming in to view while the bottom third is a sea of flat black with the tips of the sea highlighted by text in white and cool greys. A thin veil of blue stretches across the painting once again as the horizon or boundary between sky and sea. Is it the calm before a storm or good fortune coming, regardless, are you ready?

Repeating the same text snippet as title “I will have no man in my boat who is not afraid of a whale,” but for a completely different painting, Kim25 brings a fully enraged storm bearing down on the viewer. This large diptych, 63 x 88 inches, engulfs the viewer placing them in that boat with Captain Ahab. The turbulent text waves in the middle ground she painted in an icy bone-chilling cold blue with pure white crests surrounded by dark greys, flat blacks, and muddled whites. The painting is a depiction of one’s own turmoil that lies at the crux of pressing on through whatever the storm may bring to persevere.

Kim25, “Elle est retrouvée, Quoi," L’Eternité. C’est la mer allée Avec le soleil”, 2021, oil on canvas, 63.8 x 44.1 in. Courtesy of Mizuma & Kips.

There are four striking paintings each titled “Elle est retrouvée, Quoi”- L’Eternité. C’est la mer allée Avec le soleil” from the first stanza of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem Eternity. The poem symbolically concerns freeing oneself from society as well as from yourself. Kim25 very starkly paints this conflict on a saturated thin veneer of painful blood red pigments some with gentle waves, others are more menacing, that provide an experience of mindful deliverance or quietly submitting to the pressure of the waters.

There is no uncertainty of Kim25’s painting abilities, her paintings of bodies of water resonate with life itself through which the viewer perceives and immerses themselves since there are no certainties in life. WM

Robert Curcio

Robert Curcio is a writer, curator, and consultant to art fairs and artists.

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