Minjae Kim: IYKYKNovember 28th, 2022 - January 7th, 2023
Nina Johnson is pleased to present a solo exhibition of all new works by Korean artist and designer Minjae Kim. On view from November 28, 2022 to January 7, 2023, the show features twelve new pieces of fully functional furniture and objets d’art inspired by the artist’s heritage. IYKYK will be the inaugural show in Nina Johnson’s newly renovated Exhibition Library, which was designed by renowned architecture firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero.
Minjae Kim is known for his emotive furnishings and objects that often reject perfect surfaces and the rigidity of architectural forms. In this new body of work, Kim plays with explicit references of traditional Korean aesthetics to emphasize the societal impact of our dominantly Westernized world. To a Western eye these references read more or less as abstract art, but to individuals of Korean heritage, they appear clear and immediate. With these works, Kim sheds light on the duality between wanting to hold onto one’s traditions and culture, and the feeling that one is obliged to make this culture more palatable for consumption by a contemporary Western audience.
The artist says: “It was always interesting to see the Korean influence read in my work when there was no explicit Korean reference on my end. Inevitably, I am operating in a Western world which I was educated and trained in, but never felt I had enough footing to explore Korean identity. There is a funny sentiment of having to leave a culture to be able to reflect and reclaim, especially if you come from a world where the tradition has been rapidly fading away due to Westernization. This is my ‘return’ to Korea, and ultimately yet another attempt to fuse my worlds together.”
Kim references these aesthetics through intentional choices in familiar materials and mediums: lacquered and painted wood, quilted fiberglass resin, and wired mesh fuse together to create one-of-a-kind pieces, such as light fixtures fabricated from traditional hats and robes, rocking chairs and trinkets, and moon jars made from fiberglass and resin. The results are thought-provoking, meditative, poetic, and even emotional.
Minjae Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and lived in multiple different cities in Korea growing up. After spending time in both England and the U.S. during his years as a student, Kim moved to America to study Architecture and Painting at the University of Washington. He moved to New York to attend graduate school studying Architecture at Columbia University, and has been living here ever since.