Sowing Into Painting gives space for reflection
Kimsooja uses nature and architecture and transforms them with the help of mirrors and fabric that call attention to us in our surroundings and give space for reflection. Kimsooja describes the exhibition Sowing Into Painting at Wanås Konst as creating a circle within her oeuvre connecting her long standing interests in painting, textiles and agriculture.
Just inside one of the gates to the Sculpture Park, near the buildings at Wanås, flax grows as a part of Kimsooja’s exhibition. Through her interest in cultivating at Wanås, she takes advantage of something unique to the site that most art museums cannot offer—the possibility of farming the land. The flax field, which carries the same title as the exhibition, is sown at the end of April, will grow and change over the course of the exhibition from green sprouts to stalks with sky-blue flowers and seeds. Growing flax pulls us back within art history to the flax fibers that were used to manufacture textiles including canvas and linseed oil that is the classic binding agent in artists’ oil paints.
These plants, which are grown and cultivated in a period of several months, will be transformed into paintings that could last for centuries. As well as a physical source of materials for painting, the field becomes a fluid tableau, covering the ground, in a pattern akin to a weaving in the earth, Kimsooja says.
In the sculpture park, she has instead chosen to work with old-fashioned white sheets that in Sweden are traditionally embroidered with a monogram or decorated with lace—a frame of life that are a part of creating a home and that display care and reflection. The work is titled A Laundry Field and for Kimsooja, they are like a hanging field of paintings, in the beech wood forest, while they simultaneously provide connections to the mundane.
In the Art Gallery, Kimsooja again works with textiles as a new series of large scale conceptual painting. In Meta-Painting, raw canvases of linen, both stretched and folded like bottari, the Korean cloth bundles used to wrap belongings and that have become a characteristic element of her oeuvre with references to migration and displacement.
In the old Hay Barn from 1750, Kimsooja has installed To Breathe, a mirror floor that reflects the surroundings and structure of the ceiling construction, which rises like a cathedral with its highest point 14 meters up. Through the mirror floor, she gives space for the observer to enter, and become a part of the artwork. On the other side of the building, which is more than 50 meters long, she has worked with stuffing fabrics in cracks and holes in the stone wall. In the large space, artworks coexist that make us look far away and up close. Her works both occupy the room and leave it empty—the entire space becomes an experience, with this experience being her artwork.