Mie Yim: Quarantine Lunch
Listen to Mie Yim's Quarantine Playlist Below
At the start of the lock-down in late March, korean-born, new york-based artist mie Yim was forced to vacate her Bronx studio with only what she could carry: a stack of hand-made, pigmented India paper and a box of pastels. Over the course of quarantine, Yim has created almost 100 pastel drawings depicting the ominous and colorful subjects familiar to her paintings.
MIE YIM in her makeshift home studio
APRIL 18, 2020 • NEW YORK, NY
Frank O'Hara's quintessentially New York "Lunch Poems" helped name this selection of Yim's Quarantine Drawings. The poems were purportedly written on O'Hara's lunch hour, and despite their characteristically breezy tone they imbue a LONGING for personal connection. To read them now in a year of quarantines and lock-downs provides a new layer to what it means to make art in a city like New York: the full-empty feeling of concurrent crowdedness and isolation, anonymous yet universal coping in the face of CoVid-19.
Personal PoemFrank O'Hara "Lunch Poems"
Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested
I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poets' walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so
With the drawings that comprise Quarantine Lunch, Yim continues her abstract-expressionist approach to image-making. however the drawings serve as a bridge from Yim's older paintings, which she sees as an investigation of selfhood that pivoted to figuration. She describes the work as:
"narrative paintings of memory and fantasy...theatrical scenes of plush, anthropomorphic creatures in sugary colors referring to my cultural heritage."
Yim's newest paintings, to be exhibited in the gallery in 2021, articulate a more complex visual language by sublimating story and bringing form and the presence of paint to the forefront. In her own words:
"I visualize the cute, naughty creatures with their guts turned inside out. I transmute many pictorial moments of pretty shapes into the unknown and dark. Buried beneath the luscious colors and sexy shapes lie maudlin spirits and brooding angry prepubescents ready to do battle. They have transpired into a strange blend of organic/biomorphic machine-like beings."
Yim ultimately sees these new drawings as a "SYNCHRONIZED DANCE OF ABSTRACT AND FIGURATION IN AN AMALGAMATED IMAGERY."
Mie Yim: Paintings
DESPITE THE SUBTLE TRANSFORMATION OF YIM'S SUBJECT MATTER, SHE CONTINUES HER SIGNATURE MARK-MAKING TECHNIQUE, 'SFUMATO', WHICH SHE CREDITS TO LEONARDO DAVINCI
"The layers make the surface twinkle and glow with whispering history."
I hope you got my letter that I wrote to you last year about my show called "Sfumato". I gave you credit since you invented, perfected and coined the term. Like your work, my paintings have soft edges where hard lines disappear, like a cloud of smoke. Poof!....
.....My background is as different from you as you can imagine. As a child growing up in Korea, I was weaned on Hello Kitty and other various cute dolls and fluffy animals. Then a sudden jolt of displacement to the U.S. caused a state of discombobulation. Life suddenly seemed hazy and dream like. Later, I folded my story into my work in an intuitive way. I do my usual build up of shapes and lines that gel into a metaphysical portrait of beings with pathos, anxiety and pugnacious hilarity. I layer soft edges, like cotton balls. I construct lines horizontal and vertical, like scaffolding or skeletons. I erase, scuff, glaze, lay on paint thick and thin. I use sugary saturated colors and linear forms that are derived from anthropomorphic parts that could conjure up bunny ears or doe eyes. They have transpired into abstract depictions, using autobiographical sources and drawing on influences that occurred as I evolved in the Western world as an artist.
I think about going underneath the banal gaze and evocative puffs to find what lies beneath. Like when you used to go to the morgue and peel the flesh off cadavers to see the muscles while you were obsessively layering the paint to create the smile of Mona Lisa. I love that you took the time to paint her corset before you painted her clothing, even though you knew no one would see it. I paint over so many elements, but I know it’s all in there. The layers make the surface twinkle and glow with whispering history.
Wish you could see the show.
Say hi to Caravaggio for me.
Summary View: Quarantine LunchClick each image for detail view
by Dallas Jeffs
April 4, 2019
January 21, 2009 by R.C. Baker