Almost one year since his last solo show which revolved around the idea of how we react or adapt to situations that are beyond our control in relation to the global pandemic, Heesoo Kim is currently having a large presentation that continues the exploration of the ongoing state in relation to our everyday lives. Presented in a format of the artist’s studio or home, Normal Life, which is running its final days at Afternoon gallery in Seoul, raises questions about the experiences which form what we recognize as “normal” life and which have been lost or modified in the past two years.

Employing dry oils to construct flat forms separated by dark contours, Kim is portraying numb looking sitters, while evoking the aesthetics of cloisonnism with frequent nods to cubism. And by utilizing elements from movements with such a strong aesthetic, while exploring a contemporary subject, the artist is showing his deep involvement in the art tradition and will to affirm his place in the global art conversation. “In this exhibition, you can see me working, my thoughts and habits,” the Seoul-based artist told Juxtapoz about the way the work is presented in a life or work-like environment. “I may be exhibiting myself. I am a person who always does my best on drawing and my drawings are like my life. If I change, my drawings will also change.” Revealing  himself as a person alongside such a large body of work certainly elevates the impact of the paintings, sculpture, watercolors, and countless sketches and drawings that are on view in the South Korean capital.

On another hand, the idea of exposing his work environment and the entire creative process comes from the place of constant doubt and striving for development, change, and improvement. “It’s not just drawing prolifically, it’s training to move forward,” the artist told us, explaining the inclusion of numerous drawings, sketches, and notes that are scattered through the space. “It is a very personal opinion, but I think that being an artist is a profession that shows their works after constantly pondering and drawing to be assessed. I am not complacent while working on my drawings. If I only think highly of my private gratification, it will be difficult for me to exhibit or draw in the future.” Such an attitude reveals Kim’s relationship with his work, as well as his process which is revealed in its entirety through this presentation. And the thoroughness and the extent of this disclosure comes to light with the fact that the exhibition was on view for three full months, during which it was split into two parts. Finally, the amount of work was part of the message that the artist hoped to pass with this project. “I believe that expressing and showing the mediocrity of the past amidst the ongoing pandemic would be the future we hoped for,” Kim told us about how scenes with pensive yet somewhat senseless people might snap us out of the idealization of life we’ve put aside some two years ago. —Sasha Bogojev