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Pioneering sculptor Kim Yun-shin lands in 2 commercial galleries ahead of age 90

By Park Yuna

Published : Jan. 19, 2024 - 14:25

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Kim Yun-shin (Kukje Gallery, Lehmann Maupin) Kim Yun-shin (Kukje Gallery, Lehmann Maupin)

Sculptor Kim Yun-shin will work with two leading galleries, American gallery Lehmann Maupin and Kukje Gallery in Seoul, marking her first partnerships with commercial galleries the six decades of her artistic career.

The 88-year-old artist had her inaugural institutional solo exhibition in South Korea at the Nam-Seoul Museum of Art in 2023, with “Kim Yunshin: Towards Oneness” comprehensively showcasing her work. The exhibition reignited both renewed and belated interest in the artist at home and abroad.

“Kim's long-standing commitment to the traditional sculptural process, grounded in a profound understanding of materiality, is all the more special. In our commitment to reestablishing Kim's meaningful contribution to art history, Kukje Gallery will actively support and promote her artistic endeavors, which continue to evolve even as she approaches the age of 90,” Lee Hyun-sook, chairperson of Kukje Gallery, said in a statement.

"Add Two Add One, Divide Two Divide One 2022-2" by Kim Yun-shin (Kukje Gallery, Lehmann Maupin)

Born in 1935 during Japanese colonial era, Kim graduated from Hongik University majoring in sculpture, becoming one of the very first women to formally train as a sculptor in Korea. She moved to Paris to explore her career in 1964 and later settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1984 after becoming captivated by its wilderness, vast space and the robust wood of the region.

“The artist’s unique and organic visual language is grounded in her deep reverence for nature and is influenced by her nomadic lifestyle, which has taken her around the world. Guided by her philosophical reflections on nature and the universe, Kim’s work embodies traditional forms and ideas, painstakingly shaped through her physical labor,” Lehmann Maupin stated in its announcement.

"Song of My Soul 2016-8" by Kim Yun-shin (Kukje Gallery, Lehmann Maupin)

Kim mainly uses hardwood and other natural resources such as stone to express her artistic inspiration and philosophy in nature. Kim’s representative works include the Add Two Add One, Divide Two Divide One sculpture series that she has shown since the late 1970s. As implied by the title, each work elucidates Kim’s sculptural process of adding one’s spirit to the work, where “two becomes one through interaction, then splits again to become two different ones.”

Kukje Gallery will present the artist’s solo exhibition in March in Seoul, highlighted by a consistent emphasis on the inherent properties of natural materials like wood and stone. In February, Lehmann Maupin will present a dedicated selection of works by Kim at Frieze Los Angeles, followed by an In Focus presentation at its New York gallery in March.

Kim is based between Argentina in Buenos Aires and Seoul.