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  • Mar 30, 2023

Shows to See in Early April, 2023

Reference image of TAIKI SAKPISIT’s The Spirit Level (2022). Courtesy the artist.

14th Gwangju Biennale: “soft and weak like water”
Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall and other venues

Led by artistic director Sook-Kyung Lee, the 14th Gwangju Biennale, “soft and weak like water,” explores the transformative and restorative potentials of water as a metaphor for alternative modes of power and change. Artistic interventions by 79 local and international artists address four subtopics: the spirit of Gwangju; the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity; migration and diaspora; and environmental justice. Among the newly commissioned works are Yokohama-based artist Meiro Koizumi’s five-channel projection Theater of Life (2023), which looks at the diasporic history of the local Koryo-in community that were ethnic Koreans forcibly relocated from Russia’s far east to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, and Bangkok-based filmmaker Taiki Sakpisit’s installation The Spirit Level (2023), which documents communities along the Mekong River. Other participants include First Nations filmmaker Sky Hopinka, Johannesburg-born multidisciplinary artist Buhlebezwe Siwani, and the late South Korean painter Oh Yoon.

TAMMY NGUYEN, Leading the Way, 2023, watercolor, vinyl paint, pastel, rubber stamping, and metal leaf on paper stretched over panel, 228.6 × 152.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul / London.

MAR 23–MAY 6
Tammy Nguyen: “A Comedy for Mortals: Inferno”
Lehmann Maupin, Seoul

New York-based artist Tammy Nguyen’s exhibition “A Comedy for Mortals: Inferno” is the first in a three-part series based on the Italian poet Dante’s trilogy, Divine Comedy. Featuring 13 new paintings, nine works on paper, and nine artist books, the exhibition is Nguyen’s multilayered, multimedia mash-up of imagery referring to Dante and Virgil’s religious pilgrimage through the nine circles of hell and imagery from the Cold War-era space race. In This Place is Circular (2023), United States president John F. Kennedy’s visage appears next to a technical diagram of a spaceship while the figures emerge from in a dense tropical jungle, while the classical poet Virgil, in Leading the Way (2023), is composed of leafy vines and serpents, collapsing histories and confounding viewers.

Installation views of HEIDI BUCHER’s "Spaces are shells, are skins." Image via Instagram.

MAR 28–JUN 25
Heidi Bucher: “Spaces are Shells, are Skins”
Art Sonje Center, Seoul

The late Swiss artist Heidi Bucher (1926–1993) came into her own as an artist in the 1970s and ’80s with a series of performance-based works in which she covered the interior of rooms with a latex skin that she would then peel away from the walls, wrapping herself in the material. Curated by Sunjung Kim, “Spaces are Shells, are Skins” presents many of these latex-and-gauze “soft sculptures” including ones that Bucher made of the rooms of her ancestral home. From there she expanded her critiques of the male-dominated Swiss society, visiting the sanatorium of a Freudian psychiatrist known for detaining women diagnosed as “hysteric.” There, she created a latex skin in The Parlour Office of Doctor Binswanger (1988), a haunting evocation of medicine’s power as a disciplinary system.

SIMON FUJIWARA, Who’s Whorinal (Golden Days), 2022, collage of UV print, charcoal, colored paper, 96 × 68 cm. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Hyundai, Seoul. 

APR 5–MAY 21
Simon Fujiwara: “Whoseum of Who?”
Gallery Hyundai, Seoul

During the pandemic, as self-isolating people began to question their own identities, the artist Simon Fujiwara created a fictional animated bear persona named Who the Baer. “I created a cartoon character in order not to become one myself,” was his rationale. Since then, Who has spent several years exploring their identity, trying on numerous guises and careers in search of themself. For “Whoseum of Who?” at Gallery Hyundai, Fujiwara presents more than 40 works—drawings, videos, paintings, and site-specific installations—based around Who and their ongoing search for Who-dentity.

Installation views of BYRON KIM’s "Marine Layer" at Kukje Gallery, Busan. Image via Instagram.

MAR 17–APR 23
Byron Kim: “Marine Layer”
Kukje Gallery, Busan

New York-based painter Byron Kim’s latest series of abstract paintings derive from the artist’s visual encounters with the sea beginning with a 2020 residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida. Each titled B.Q.O.—after the literary characters Berton, Queequeg, and Odysseus, each with oceanic connections, from Stanisław Lem’s Solaris, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Homer’s Odyssey, respectively—the three-panel paintings from top to bottom represent the view of the sky from the water, the water’s surface, and the water seen from below. The newest works in the series span bodies of water ranging from the Pacific Ocean in southern California to ponds in New England and even swimming pools, as Kim explores our body’s physical connections to water.

ADITYA NOVALI, Remanence: There’s one for me, 2023, oil and ink on canvas. 60 pieces, 28.5 × 37.5 cm each. Courtesy the artist and ROH Projects, Jakarta.

MAR 15–MAY 7
Aditya Novali: “New Obsolescence: ADITYAVOVALI”
ROH Projects, Jakarta

On June 17, 1989, the young Aditya Novali gave a solo wayang shadow-puppet performance, along with two groups of performers, at the Indonesian presidential palace to a formal state audience. Video footage of this event, captured on Betamax cassette tape, forms the basis of the artist’s exhibition “New Obsolescence: ADITAYVOVALI”—the latter referring to how his name is credited in the video and the former an oxymoronic expression echoing the New Order regime of the day. The errors in the video are reflected in one of the artist’s signature rotatable paintings while other paintings capture scenes or objects from the scratchy, glitch-filled recordings, as the artist reflects on the unlikely intersection of his personal memories and national history.

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