Lehmann Maupin, Kukje Gallery to Represent Octogenarian Korean Sculptor Kim Yun Shin

Lehmann Maupin, Kukje Gallery to Represent Octogenarian Korean Sculptor Kim Yun Shin

Lehmann Maupin and Seoul’s Kukje Gallery will jointly represent Kim Yun Shin, an under-known Korean sculptor who is among the few women artists that historians associate with the first postwar generation in her country. This representation deal marks the artist’s first time working with a commercial gallery in her six-decade career.

Kim will have her first solo shows with both galleries in March. Lehmann Maupin, which has locations in New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London, will also display her work at its booth focusing on women artists in their program, including Lee Bul, Mandy El-Sayegh, and Heidi Bucher, at Frieze Los Angeles next month.

Kim was most recently the subject of a major survey at the Nam-Seoul Museum of Art in 2023. Emma Son, Lehmann Maupin’s Seoul-based senior director, said that a museum colleague had told her that the gallery should be paying attention to Kim in 2022. Son told ARTnews that she was “blown away” by the Nam-Seoul show, adding, “I said to myself, how could I not know this artist?”  

In a statement, Kim said, “The year 2023 was a significant turning point in my 60-year artistic career. The decision to work in Argentina for the past 40 years was driven by my own determination. And my visit to Korea in 2022 was planned as the final visit to my homeland, considering I will turn 90 in the near future. … I deeply appreciate the support and encouragement from these two galleries, as well as the warm reception from people in my homeland. With my remaining strength, I will return everyone’s support by devoting my time to creating work that I hope will inspire many.”

Kim Yun Shin, Stacking Origins, ca. 1970.

In her pursuit to create art, Kim has long pushed against convention. She was born in 1935 in Wonsan, in present-day North Korea, and she and her mother were able to flee to South Korea shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. After receiving her BFA from Hongik University in Seoul, she decided to move to Paris to study sculpture and lithography at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, living in the French capital from 1964 to 1969. “As a female to go overseas was something very unusual at the time—she’s someone who paved the way for future generations,” Son said.

When Kim returned to Seoul, she began teaching sculpture at Sangmyung University, and she also cofounded the Korea Sculptress Association. “She was helping to create something for the female artists to gain ground in Korea—at the time it wasn’t so easy,” Son said.

For the past 40 years, Kim has been based in Buenos Aires, relocating there in 1984 after visiting her niece. There, she became so enamored of the wood that was readily available that she decided to stay, as a way to push her artistic career forward. “She told me, ‘This was the place where I have to be and make produce works,’” Son recalled. “There’s a mixture of cultures present in her work. I could see the influence of Korean traditional arts and of Latin America.”

Composite image of two abstract paintings featuring color geometric shapes.
From left, Kim Yun Shin: Song of My Soul 2016-8 (2016) and Song of My Soul 2008-49 (2008).

Though wood has been her primary medium, Kim has also experimented with sculptures made in materials like onyx and stone, as well as being a significant painter. “The relationship with the painting and sculpture in this show created this unique energy that draws people into the work,” Son said. “Learning that at 88 she was still producing such a strong body of work was something that I was taken aback by.”

Though Kim was well-known in Korea during the 1970s and early ’80s, her decades spent in Argentina have caused her artistic contributions to be under-recognized in her home country and outside her adopted country, where she opened the Museo Kim Yun Shin in 2008. Son said that recently, “people have started to recognize Kim and her work. We’re excited that we have a chance to really expose her work to the wider audience in Korea and internationally. I think she will be a great encouragement for the younger generation of female artists.”    

The post “Lehmann Maupin, Kukje Gallery to Represent Octogenarian Korean Sculptor Kim Yun Shin” by Maximilíano Durón was published on 01/17/2024 by www.artnews.com