Koh San Keum Korea, b. 1966


Koh San Keum responds to books and sentences she has been mesmerized by which have considerably influenced her thoughts. The selective sentences that she is particularly responsive to, play a crucial role in developing the unique identity and the essence of the artist’s philosophy. In the process of converting texts consumed as social symbols, such as novels, newspapers, poetry, essays and law books into physical objects, tiny artificial pearls are placed according to the number of original letters and spaces in between the letters in a fixed and minimal arrangement.

Koh’s work involves a heavily labor-intensive process in which the artist herself arranges tens of thousands of artificial pearls over the panels’ ivory surface achieved by repeating painting and sanding acrylic paint, one by one. Converted into a pearl, the text emancipates itself at last from its obligation to function as a symbol, and becomes something that is postnational and post-ethnic.

Koh San Keum has participated in exhibitions at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) in Korea, C5 Art Beijing in China, and Museo Carlo Bilotti in Italy. Her work is represented in the collections of MMCA, SeMA, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, and Seoul National University Museum of Art in Korea.


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