Unscented. Lina Kim

Unscented. Lina Kim

“Unscented,” Solo Show Lina Kim
Opening: October 16, 2021 from 11am to 6pm
Exhibition: October 16 to November 20, 2021
Alameda Lorena 1257, house 4 – Jardim Paulista, São Paulo

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If the use of locution is regarded as a term of intrinsic meaning or reference, that is to say distinct from its function and immediate context, then perlocution is that which in itself has an action as its aim, but does not effect or constitute the action, for example persuading or convincing. Hence it is the perlocutionary path of gradual persuasion and displacement that we must visually follow, in order to experience and evaluate the insight wrought in the drawings by the Brazilian-Korean artist Lina Kim. In that they are developed through different series does not mean they are necessarily intended to have a particular sequential reading. In other words they remain as singularities with a whole that constitute an unnumbered series, taking on contextual qualities and meanings at each site of their chosen presentation.

An immediate example of displacement is evident in a group of works OpticalSans which take the form of monochrome border framed rectangular fields with a syncopated font. The displacement is that the textual aspects take on a pictorial role rather than presenting the phonetic determinism of a written language, hence the perlocution resides in that while the lettering might read Space Stations or Remembering Mountains, or many other chosen distracted referents, the viewer in brought to a state of comprehension by purely visual means. The various sizing of the lettering and the asymmetry of presentation are circumlocuted around the periphery of the coloured field, and this creates a deferred sense of evocation outside of any immediate narrative apprehension. As a result this unique group of drawings stand as images of punctum, prompts that lead toward a subtle yet persuasive power of discovery rather than through didactic determinism.

The deferral of an immediate determinism is a central aspect of these drawings when seen as a whole, and is why the artist Lina Kim uses the term ‘unscented’ in order to explicate the nature of that deferral. The term ‘unscented’ draws upon the olfactory sense and suggests a form of psychical synaesthesia is in play. This concept that has long existed in visual culture in regard to early abstraction, but which has usually been attributed to the interchange of the visual and the aural. To speak of the ‘unscented’ is therefore less a denial and more a denotation of absence that the artist wishes to make present through displacement. For the prefix ‘un’ means simply the absence of an immediate quality or state. We are led to understand this again in another group of drawings called Eyes that present eye-like line drawn lozenges in a state of variable repetition. While they might at one level play with the idea of an eye chart, at another deeper level they are concomitant as a sort of visual braille. As a result we are led again to think in terms of displacement, that is to say, away from the visual to the haptic. It is salutary reminder that while the experience of these drawings is visual, their production is the result of the development hand sensory haptic processes. And it characteristic of the present time (a time of pandemic) that we remind ourselves creativity incorporates the simultaneity of all the senses.

In the unnumbered series of drawings called Islands the idea draws near to the genetic through the microbial or amoebic, which is not to claim these wash-based presentations are intended as petri-dish specimens, far from it. It is rather the fact that they open out as variable referentially linked atolls. While not intended to be representative of the specific, they do nonetheless, when seen together, have the imaginary and accumulative power reminiscent of a flicker book. But in this case the emphasis is placed more immediately on the optical and the sensory interaction of material application and the support, where we see the wash spread and partially impregnate the paper surface. They are not intended, however, as being allusions to recognisable or locatable islands, though they do suggest and aerial viewpoint common to forms of presentational mapping. It is largely the case within creative drawing (as distinct from sketching), that though the paper surface is a horizontal support, the relationship of the eye to the surface is most often that of an aerial viewpoint. It can be surmised the tri-coloured wash applications of Islands, were similarly generated by Kim from above. Given that drawing is a more immediate medium than in the duration of painting, we find a far greater sense of spontaneity than we might at first suppose.

If I have used the term strategy at the beginning, it is not to infer the conceptual, since Lina Kim does not consider herself a conceptual artist with a predetermined system. The drawings are open evocations, personal perlocutions, that is to say her drawings do not direct the viewer towards a fixed reading and pre-determined meaning(s). Rather she prefers in her drawing practice to open out the potentiality of multiple responses of difference. To do this and throughout these drawings she has introduced ideas of the intra-sensory, that which is retained ‘within’ the senses, as distinct from an inter-sensory between the senses. At the same time her conceptualisation is not abstract, for there are intentional analogous relations to the natural world, witnessed in another of her specialised media namely photography. In fact in the series of photographs of natural environments, forest and undergrowth, with their poiesis of the visual and the aural, we might be tempted to think of them as the hidden reservoir of her ideas expressed through her drawings. In general this is not the case for photography is most often a medium of incision and extraction, whereas drawing is possessive of the intimacy of the moment. As a result the current installation of her drawings are an insight into that personal private world.

©Mark Gisbourne
19 September 2021