Recent Works of Kimsooja - A Return to the Archetype

Portrait of Yourself, 1985, Thread ink, crayon, and acrylic on used cloth

Recent Works of Kimsooja
- A Return to the Archetype

Kwang Soo OH


  • When we say an art work is done with fabrics as medium, usually we do not mean that it is a piece of canvas stretched on a frame but it is a fabric art, a material object freed from frame. A piece of fabric, when appeared as canvas locked in a frame, becomes 2-dimensional plane; when it is freed from the frame, it has dual nature of 2- and 3-dimensional character. Therefore, cloth is a material which retains dualistic nature of 2- and 3-dimensions.

  • Cloth is used in such everyday objects accompanying human body as clothes, gloves, socks, or scarves wrapped around heads. Sometimes it becomes a flag, an emblem of ideology like in a poem by Chong-Ma. But cloth's true value lies in its affinity with women. Cloth connects the lives of mother, mother's mother, and her mother with its secretive emotional attachment. What else in the world other than the medium of cloth represents so well the humble dreams and endurance in hardship of women? The artist says. "One day I was sewing up bed covers with mother, when suddenly I experienced intimacy and amazing oneness in which my thoughts, sensitivity, and gesture are all united and fused. I also found a possibility to embrace in it numerous long-buried memories and pains, and even the love of life."

  • Through the medium of cloth, the history of inner world of women is woven as the union of myself and my mother becomes that of myself and mother's mother and her mother, and so on.

  • In from of Kimsooja's works, therefore, we are moved, as if we witnesses a return to the original existence which links us to our own mother and mother's mother. We do not see the cloth as a material but see the secretive history of women mediated by cloth.