Kyungah Ham
Abstract Weave / Morris Louis Delta Kappa 1960 SS02
Machine embroidery on cotton, collected internet world news, tassel, wooden frame
Canvas Size: 112 x 150 cm
Including Tassel: 143 x 150 cm


Kyungah Ham’s embroidery project derives from personal experience. After having discovered a North Korean propaganda leaflet at her parents' doorstep in 2008, Ham devised a series of artistic messages for a group of anonymous audiences in North Korea, stemming from the most representative medium symbolizing fabricated propaganda of Cold War ideologies. Part of the artist’s body of silk embroidered works, the Morris Louis series, which began in 2014, was inspired by the American Abstract Expressionist Morris Louis’ color field paintings. Void of any narrative implications, these chromatic rhythms of diagonal bands are saturated with somber excerpts sourced from online articles discussing sociopolitical issues. While the practice of collaborating with an outside party on the embroidery medium, completely separating concept and production, is similar to that of Alighiero Boetti, Ham's work seeks to overcome division and indirectly publicizes the innate characteristics of the world we live in, while simultaneously questioning the hidden political nuances of Abstract Expressionism. However, only a few of these completed works have returned to the artist's possession following the censorship of the North. The volatility of North Korea–South Korea relations caused indefinite postponements to the completion of the embroidery paintings, while some of the completed pieces were even confiscated by the North Korean government. For such reasons, Abstract Weave / Morris Louis Delta Kappa 1960 SS02 (2019), which borrows from Morris Louis' Delta Kappa (1960), was reproduced in a South Korean factory.

함경아의 자수 프로젝트는 지극히 개인적인 경험에서 출발했다. 지난 2008년 집 앞에서 ‘삐라(전단)’를 발견한 작가는 냉전 체제 시대의 허구적 프로파간다를 대표하는 이 매체를 통해 북쪽의 불특정 대상들에게 전달하는 예술적 메시지를 기획했다. 2014년부터 시작된 <모리스 루이스> 연작은 이 자수 프로젝트의 일환으로 미국 추상화가 모리스 루이스(Morris Louis)의 색면추상회화를 차용한 형형색색의 실크 자수 회화다. 내러티브가 제거된 색띠 속에 작가는 정치, 사회적 이슈를 다룬 각종 인터넷 기사에서 발췌한 무거운 텍스트를 촘촘히 집어넣었다. 자수를 매체로 구상과 제작을 분리한 채 타자와 협업하는 방식은 알리기에로 보에티(Alighiero Boetti)와 동일하지만, 함경아의 작업은 단절을 극복하고 세상의 본질을 드러내는 동시에 ‘추상주의’라는 미술적 사조에 숨은 정치성에 의문을 제기한다. 그러나 당국의 검열로 작가의 수중에 돌아온 완성작은 몇 작품 되지 않는다. 특히 불안정한 남북한 정세에 따라 작품의 완성은 기약 없이 유예되기 일쑤였고, 완성된 작품이 압수되기도 했다. 〈Abstract Weave / Morris Louis Delta Kappa 1960 SS02〉(2019)은 이러한 이유로 모리스 루이스의 <Delta Kappa>(1960)를 차용, 남한의 공장에서 다시 제작했다.


Jun 4, 2015 - Jul 25, 2015



Kyungah Ham, Subject of Solo Exhibition Abstract, Poetry Weapon / Soccer Paintings by soccer ball bouncing over Crocodile River at Carlier Gebauer Gallery in Madrid, Spain

Kyungah Ham Participates in 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, Group Exhibition at Artspace Sydney

Kyungah Ham Participates in the 3rd Edition of ASIA NOW in Paris

Kyungah Ham Participates in Group Exhibition Rediscovery of Colors at Museum SAN in Wonju, Korea 

Kyungah Ham Participates in Lecture Program UNDERSTANDING NORTH KOREA Hosted by University of California, Davis