Mie Yim's "Psychotropic Dance" @ Olympia, NYC
"I know it may be over-used, but this new work really is an embodiment of quarantine," Mie Yim wrote to the gallery as they were working on a solo show which is currently on view by appointment only. "These drawings are the only new friends I made in 2020." And why we're also wary of recurring use of pandemic and its side effects in our reviews of shows here at Juxtapoz, these particular works are just impossible to be introduced in any other way.
As many exhibitions on view nowadays at galleries around the world, the whole body of work is a result of a year of lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing. Far from Yim's usual work on a large scale, these intricate and intriguing small explorations and alchemies are the compromises between making the work and not being able to work with familiar materials and art supplies. On view through February 6th at Olympia in NYC, Psychotropic Dance is an installation comprising an elaborate new series of small pastel on Shizen paper, two big-scale oils on canvas, and a site-specific mural. The title itself is conceived as a reference to the psychedelic appearance of some of the visuals and the artist's continuous "dance" on the very edge between the abstraction and figuration.
The recent unforeseen circumstances pushed Yim's practice into the unknown, connecting her early drawing explorations influenced by Guston, DaVinci, and Velasquez, with her recent big-scale works on canvas. Utilizing the shift in scale as well as the standstill atmosphere of the world around her, the artist immersed herself in constructing a highly detailed series of visuals. "I want to show my bunnies and bears, cute with undercurrent darkness," the artist mentioned in the artist statement that accompanies the exhibition. "Eventually they become more and more non-representational." This continuous push and pull situation between the figuration and abstraction reveals her interest in the demystification of the art process rather than the focus on the connotations around the image. Combining the almost tactile quality of the surfaces and the delicate textures of pastels on paper, the NYC-based artist is hoping to surprise the viewers and enable them to feel her "dance" with her materials/technique. In order to achieve such an effect, her process must feel new, untamed, and exciting for herself first, and this is where working on a small scale which punctuates such act of making can result in the most exuberant and surprising forms. —Sasha Bogojev