Sang Woo Kim

Present Tense

27 January – 28 April 2024


About the Artist

Born in Seoul, South Korea, and moving to the UK at a very young age, Sang Woo Kim’s discourse addresses his fractured identity and confronts the alienating cultural factors that affected him early on. Raised in London by traditional Korean parents, he always felt ‘other’ to the people around him, mainly of Western descent. This transpires in his works, in which he looks at the topic of identity, primarily that of first-generation immigrants who struggle with cultural duality. Kim brings awareness to this conflict and expresses it poetically and with a sense of irony and humor. He aims to surprise the viewer and cause a disruption that allows them to truly ‘see.’

Working with media that range from painting to installation, Kim builds up and breaks down boundaries to create a visual ‘skin’ composed of nostalgia and recollections. His work suggests that the gaze comes from within and is tied to one’s identity: until one can cultivate it, one will always view oneself and the world self-consciously. Identity takes on new connotations in the modern social media world, where one’s persona is a multi-layered construct and can be created out of thin air.

The question inherent in Kim’s work is what constitutes identity and how much of it is ‘real?’ Although all his work is autobiographical, Kim has only recently started painting self-portraits. As a fashion model, he is used to being gazed upon and seen through the lens of someone else’s vision, so self-portraiture is a way of reclaiming his identity, being, and existence. He thus addresses the notions of perception, seeing and being seen, the subject and the voyeur. Through his multidisciplinary practice, Kim prompts greater awareness about how we engage and interpret the world around us.

Kim’s selected group exhibitions include: ‘Artissima 2023,’ Galerie Sebastien Bertrand, Genève, Switzerland (2023); Welcome to my Melancholy,’ Galerie Supermarkt, Tokyo, Japan (2023); All The Small Things,’ Soup Gallery, London, UK (2023); Goosebumps,’ Anthony Gallery, Chicago IL (2023); Outside of History,’ THEWHOGALLERY, London, UK (2023); and ‘Daisies,’ Pleasewait Gallery, Paris, France (2022).  

On View in Somerset

‘Present Tense’ is on view through 28 April 2024.