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Scenes from the Wild

May 26 - Jun 18, 2022

Nam Kim

The Unknown

2021, Oil on Canvas

155 x 170 cm. (61 x 67 in.)

Nam Kim’s Scenes from the Wild immediately evokes the otherworldly and magical. Many of Kim’s scenes involve clad or completely nude serene men and women immersed in play, frolicking between towering grass, verdant fields, and twiddling reeds between their fingers as they recline on lush patches of nature. One can detect something reminiscent of Gauguin and other so-called “primitivist” painters in Kim’s works, all of whom sought an escape from modernity. However, Gauguin and company did so under the guise of a fetishizing gaze, drawing upon African, Asian, and indigenous cultures with an eye towards exoticizing the people that they depicted. In Kim’s case, however, this is not so: fetishization of the Other is nowhere to be found and the works are pure displays of sentimentality and raw embraces. The sensual pervades these works: they are curiously devoid of eroticism, closer to nudists withdrawing to the adumbrated shade of stalking trees in bare nature, bereft of clothing.
Works like Among Us (2022) make these themes explicit. Cross-legged figures are perched in a welcoming, inviting circle while arching tree branches invite viewers to join this anonymous crowd. In this sense, these works are inviting and deeply human.