in News | 27 APR 23

May at No.9 Cork Street

This month's displays from international galleries will feature solo shows by Korean filmmaker IM Heung-soon and multidisciplinary artist Ali Kazim, and a dual-artist exhibition by Tom Howse and Jone Kvie

in News | 27 APR 23

The May programme at Frieze's Mayfair gallery space presents exhibitions from The Page Gallery (Seoul) Jhaveri Contemporary (Mumbai) and Galleri Opdahl (Stavanger) running from May 11th until May 28th 2023.

The Page Gallery will present ‘The Observatory’, a solo exhibition of Korean artist and film director IM Heung-soon. Featuring new film and video installations, this presentation is informed by the artist’s focus on the Korean Peninsula’s current situation after the division between North and South. 

Early in the artist’s career, IM Heung-soon worked with the ‘Seongnam Project’ (1998-1999), an artist group dealing with the problem of unequal distribution of capital in Seongnam City in Korea. He was also part of the ‘Mixrice’ (2002-2004), a group exploring the concept of migration in contemporary society in various ways, including collaboration with migrant workers. In a similar vein, and with acute awareness of the problems surrounding the Korean division, the artist speaks about issues located on the margins of social, political, and capitalist ideology. As such, his work foregrounds minority groups such as North Korean defectors, victims of a massacre by the state, and female workers. The exhibition will be a rare chance to experience IM Heung-soon’s distinctive language of moving images in which he finds the possibility of confronting unresolved pain through history, and the lives of those who cannot even be mourned, through interview scenes and images sketching nature.

Blue painting of men with fangs
Ali Kazim, Untitled (Mara’s Army V), 2022, watercolour pigments on paper, 86 x 56 cm. Courtesy the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary

Jhaveri Contemporary will present ‘The Weight of Blue’, a solo exhibition by Ali Kazim. Kazim’s subjects have a monumental dignity, suspended as they are in space and time. The colour blue – French ultramarine, cobalt, indigo – unites the works across this exhibition. Blue is the colour of the sky and water, of vastness and longing. It is associated with melancholy and is a metaphor for the spiritual. Floating against unmodulated backgrounds, and saturated with thin layers of watercolour wash, Kazim's portraits are a tour de force of emotion. 

The art of the past – primarily Buddhist sculpture from Gandhara and Mughal and Rajput painting – also informs works in this exhibition. In a series of stunning self-portraits, Kazim fashions himself as a demon from Mara’s Army, referencing a 2nd century AD Gandharan relief from the Peshawar Distrtict, now in the Lahore Museum. Mara was an evil spirit who was afraid that his power would be compromised if Buddha showed all how to attain Enlightenment. The relief depicts Mara’s army trying to distract Buddha before he achieves Enlightenment, a pivotal episode in the life of the Buddha. The sculptor(s) of the relief depict the forces of delusion as a horde of human-animal hybrids. In his paintings, Kazim also uses self-portraiture to engage with this key episode in Buddhist mythology, animating the gestures and expressions of the demonic soldiers of Mara's army. The figures seem to play at being demons, as though trying out and comparing notes on being fiendish.

Group of friends with pigeons
Tom Howse, When Your Not Around I Don't Really Notice (It's Just a Coincidence That Everything Is Less Good And I'm Much Happier When You're Here), 2023, Acrylic on Flax, 170 x 130 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Opdahl

Also at No.9 Cork Street, Galleri Opdahl will stage a dual exhibition of British painter Tom Howse, b.1981, and the Norwegian sculptor Jone Kvie, b.1971. Howse's paintings explore the borders between the real and the imaginary. Through visual confabulations of myths and folklore, the absurd and the known, Howse explores our pursuit for understanding. In his own quest, Howse works with figurative imagery where people, animals, and fables interact in familiar and unfamiliar environments. As scenes unfold through the window of a dining room, a swamp of prehistoric dimensions, or a cultivated landscape, Howse begins to distort and reconfigure the proposed logic of our expectations. Anchored in the principles of our accustomed line of thought, the unfolding narratives present the observer with an alternate space where the margins between the real and the imaginary begin to dissolve. 

The sculptures of Jone Kvie exist within a juxtaposition of the inherently specific and entirely abstract. Working predominantly with bronze and stone, his subjects range from meteors and explosions in outer space to mundane objects from everyday life, to matters which lie beneath the surface we walk upon. Investigating how we relate to and navigate through time and space, Kvie presents visual manifestations of the questions we cannot answer in the form of objects liberated from confirmed associations, immediate references, and predisposed knowledge. Freed to engage in the aesthetic and physical properties of the object prior to a second line of thought, the beauty of the unknown becomes a space of contemplation where known logic is neither requested nor required. 

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Main image: IM Heung-soon, Bukhansan, 2015, Inkjet print, 137×197cm. Courtesy of the artist and The Page Gallery