Kim Kei uses painting, photography, monotype, and sculpture to explore the thrust of movement in capturing gesture and form. Her work seeks to resist the pull of gravity, to reject the passivity of objects, instead existing in the transitory process of becoming, a modulation from one instance to another. As a principle aspect of her practice, Kei scavenges ‘naturalistic’ objects which stand-in as substitutions for the body. Materials like fabric, wood, shells, plastic, paint scraps, and plants become characteristic of skin, wrinkles, boils, bones, wounds, guts, and tumors. Thus bringing the artist’s abstract work into proximity with a bodily and figurative realm through implication alone.
The atmospheric beauty depicted in Kei’s lush, lively paintings is rendered with care and acknowledgement of the smallest fold, lump, or tear. Kei makes a point to dampen any gore, her abstract forms undulate across the canvas in a dance that leaves vulnerable what we expect to remain hidden. It is through this motion that the viewer is carried through the exhibition’s slowly worked and engrossing surfaces — through their valleys and folds, and into pockets of expanse. These marks and stains aid in a familiarity that lingers at the edge of form and fluid; an intricate composition containing the tiny, the vast, the inner, and the outer.
The exhibition title Right Up Against the Unsaid is an invitation to investigate the sensual element of language and a reference to an undefined place where it is unclear who is pushing the context. The painting sits at the precipice, the viewer is enticed to connect and rediscover, and the artist is a catalyst for a visual poetics that are weighted in their restraint, unfurling at moments, as if to say, “It’s okay. We’re still alive and notice how we’re touching.”
Kim Kei (b. 1981 Corpus Christi, TX) received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2003. Kei will be in residence at Instinc (Singapore) in 2015. She has had solo exhibitions at Alter Space, Bustamante Gill (Los Angeles), and will exhibit at Oxholm Gallery (Copenhagen) in late 2015. Kim lives and works in Los Angeles.