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“Born in the Air”
Eunju Lee
Independent Curator, Art Historian
Kim Soyeon is an artist who has dealt with regrets and anxiety on unknown territory that was hard to capture. Continuous psychological tiptoeing in the midst of tensions and ever growing fear with no particular cause became the driving force for her art. As Kim Soyeon has firmly acknowledged the spiritual substance that cannot be grasped with reasonable or logical language for its being outside practical world, such perspective can be traced in her current works. Certainty of the existence of the substance can be captured only through the belief and that is not something in the realm where can be constructed with materials. Consequently the journey toward invisible world is to accompany with suspicion, anxiety and fear as if she is walking in abyss. Such emotions are realized at the gap and tension in between physical and spiritual realities. The works of Kim Soyeon are rooted in the anxiety. She has expressed shaky, existential circumstances during her psychological journey in a way in which situation drama like scenes are suggested.  Images of pulled out electric cords, a hand that is grabbing a bird, camouflaged animals, and camel carrying rocky mountain on its head; although these images seem ambiguous but they reveal the fragments of the spiritual substance that she senses in her fear.
The works in this exhibition are mostly composed of appropriated images from encyclopedia illustrations of animals and insects. Mammals, reptiles, birds, etc. various animal images are either depicted with detailed illustration or collaged into very odd combinations. Different from earlier works, the animals in the works do not contain symbolism they were selected and composed according to her association. Similar to the last letter game, those chained images function to draw out the threads coiled in the unconscious mind of the artist to the surface of consciousness. The outcomes may seem illogical. However, this process plays a role that visualizes psychological substance. As combination of visceral images that resemble human organs with the images of wild animals brings out crude feeling, the work seems abruptly suggest another dimension of reality contrasting to the mundane, peaceful, and safe one.  Such reminder of collage works by Max Ernst’s creates psychological friction for their absurdity inherent in the context between the subject matters. Its detailed and colorful description of animal hairs is tactual enough to stimulate the audience’s sensory organs further amplifying its absurdity. It is a psychological shock that exposes the deep chasm between physical and spiritual realities.
When viewed her recent works, the artist seemed to find new way in which she can maneuver more easily in her psychological journey of labyrinth. Emphasizing the journey itself rather than the fear caused by unreachable destination, her works were created with association rooted in the automatism instead of combining preconceived symbolic system or signs. As such, her works can be best described as ‘formed’ones rather than ‘completed.’While the emotion, namely anxiety, is the main driving force in the forming process of her are work, the achievement that she accomplished in her recent works is to become the subject that leads the evolutionary process of creation instead of fall back onto despair or skepticism. As the indicative title, “Born in the Air”suggests, Kim Soyeon presents outcomes that were impregnated during her journey. Instead of succumbing to the anxiety, these works are created as she managed to find to coexist with them and observe her own emotional changes. Most significant changes is that she is constructing a form through combining dismembered fragments. Various images were joined and shuffled in order to form creature like beings. And most important change we need to focus is found in the work titled, <Second Birth>. This is the last piece of a new series and includes an unknown creature that grows inside a womb looking form that is preparing a birth. If her last works were filled with skepticism and detouring environment, this work clearly shows self awareness departed from previous direction There might be another, third birth after this second birth. I wonder if a story just began; a story of anxiety as a proof of existence and another face of hope for unknown not as ‘encroaching spirit.’
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