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Kalim Yoons series of embroideries made on antique prints from an old wildlife encyclopedia. Kalim Yoon: Wild life picturesque, 2008-2009, dimension variable, walnut, metal threads, prints.

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For three months the Korean London based artist Kalim Yoon has been working at the National Workshops for Arts and Crafts creating new works for her upcoming solo exhibition at the Danish gallery Helene Nyborg Contemporary.

Af Ida Sofie Minke Anderson
April 2009

Kalim Yoon calls herself a sculptor as she was trained fully to master traditional materials such as stone, wood, steel, casting etc., but she wanted freedom in choosing materials and has been expanding it to second-hand objects, prints and threads – which are connected to the history and the tactility in common. In her recent work made at The National Workshops she has discovered a new way of manipulating hard wood and fine fabrics, – materials that have fascinated her for a long time. Therefore she had been looking for a place where she could actualise these specific needs under professional conditions.

“I have a long love to wood, and I really enjoy working with it. Specially hard wood gives you the natural tactility; you feel like you want to touch it. It’s a kind of sensitive and sensuous way of feeling something from the material. I have always wanted to make a specific series of wood pieces and when I got to know about the National Workshops for Arts and Crafts I thought it was a perfect opportunity,” she says.

Function depicted emotion
With titles like ‘ A portable awaiting bar’, ‘Tables for confrontation or conversation’ and ‘Head rest’, Kalim Yoon’s new objects made in wood combines the normal function of furniture with human aspects and feelings like being weary, confused, frustrated, introspective etc.

“You can’t think about furniture without body or a function and out of that thought grew the idea about some furniture looking objects. You need a chair for sitting and resting or waiting, a table for eating and reading – you can have a lot of different functions with a piece of furniture, but what you find in furniture is normally a kind of generalized and simplified. I wanted to make pieces for specific needs of situations and states of mind,” the artist tells.

Her new work does not only include these objects. The artist has also created a series of embroideries on prints from an antique natural encyclopedia, showcasing in wooden frames. She collected the engravings from the book and added metal embroideries on the animals like an extra layer of fur or skin.

“When I found this old encyclopedia of wild life, published by Bufon, in an antique print shop, I got fascinated by these etching prints made by engravers who probably ever saw real creature in life. They only heard about how it looks by others and the original drawings were depicted using their imagination. So the surroundings described of the animals could be totally inaccurate, you know, like the owl will never be found in a city, but the background is a city environment. I find this sympathetic,” Kalim Yoon explains. The embroidery – combined with the odd settings for the animals – results in a whole new meaning occurring to the old pictures, mixing up past and present – the personal and the theoretical.

The perfect place to test ideas
During her stay in Denmark Kalim Yoon has been growing technically and she finds The National Workshops a perfect place to test ideas about the use of different materials and to explore that things can expand even more than you expected. Furthermore she has appreciated the meeting with other artists, designers and craftsmen in the house. Besides the help and guidance by the leaders of the wood and metal workshops she has gained knowledge about embroidery from the Danish embroiders Berthe Bramsen, who had a residency in the workshops at the same time.

“I guess it is the best facilities I have ever experienced and the community at the workshops is very interesting. I really enjoy working side by side with architects, designers, embroideries, restorers etc. I always come out with an interesting point of view after talking with them. It is different from being in a place where you only find artists. Designers for example seem to have very specific goals and the process is different from artist’s own. I hope that more internationals can have privilege of being here. I think the Danish art scene has potentials to become more international and it’s good to be here at the right period of time. It is a small art scene, compared to London, but it is very intense,” Kalim Yoon says.


About the artist
Kalim Yoon is a MFA graduate from Slade School of Fine Art in London. She was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1980 and moved to London in 2004. After her graduation she did a residency programme for one year at the Florence Trust Studios in London. Kalim Yoon first exhibited at Helene Nyborg at the gallery’s inaugural show in 2006 and afterwards she had a group show in 2008 with Daniel Svarre and Christine Clemmesen.

Kalim Yoon’s show at Helene Nyborg Contemporary is scheduled to september 2009.

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