“To bake a cake within the eye of a storm; to feed your self sugar on the cusp of hazard.”
—Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Attractive
Droplets rendered in such meticulous element, the rain that Yaerim Ryu paints can virtually be touched. A drenched, heavy determine stands earlier than the rolling hues of grey that fill the skies of an imagined neighborhood. Hood down, they’re impervious to the heavy rainfall. This can be a local weather they know properly.
Ryu paints an unknown neighborhood, a neighborhood of individuals she has by no means met, who construct and inhabit properties she has by no means visited. In “You and Your Sweating Palms,” this neighborhood is imbued with a foggy Northern European local weather. Clues of Ryu’s latest transfer to Berlin lie hidden within the works: a pink visitors signal; pigeon excrement splattered on the city paving stones. Except for these, nevertheless, the setting seems nearer to a US suburb, with its indifferent homes scattered between huge roads, driveways and patches of inexperienced garden. “You and Your Sweating” Palms is an exhibition that paperwork a rising fog because it seeps into the frames of this uncanny suburb, describing the unseen, and bodily felt, expertise of a spot by its environment.
Unable to jog within the overcast streets of a brand new metropolis with out getting misplaced, when Ryu moved to Berlin, she discovered herself watching others run, imagining their sweaty palms. The suburb she paints is populated by her voluminous, masculine figures, who’re undeterred by the climate. Their damp hair flutters with the wind or clings to their reddened foreheads, they’re calm: they barbecue, jog, and make residence enhancements, their heavy our bodies rooting them to the bottom. The work partially responds to the male gaze, not by inverting it—her figures’ eyes by no means meet the viewers and slightly than staring out seductively with their nude our bodies angled in direction of us as with the feminine nudes of renaissance work, her topics look away with calm disinterest and put on layers of thick clothes. As an alternative, they preserve their subjectivity, present behind muted membranes that go away them unaffected by the viewer’s gaze.
The Frown on That Face Simply Like a Stale Bread (2023), the earliest of the works, reveals seven of Ryu’s weighted figures as they perform work on a home. Two of them carry a cracked window behind which she mutes the tones of the portray, discovering a top quality that may come to permeate the remainder of the works within the exhibition. The muted floor of the work, achieved by thinly layering oil paint, aesthetically mirrors Berlin’s local weather, the grayness and humidity. However the ensuing flatness additionally imposes an intriguing distance between the viewer and the world inside, with the scenes showing as if pinned behind glass. Additional, Ryu makes use of Google and Getty Pictures inventory photographs as references for her figures, their homes and streets, photographs that, regardless of representing a small minority, have by their over circulation come to symbolize normality, typical individuals and traditional lives. Through the use of these references together with a way that mutes and comprises the work’s content material, Ryu recreates within the viewer her personal paradoxical expertise of changing into conversant in a neighborhood she doesn’t but really feel a part of.
The viewer seems to be out with Ryu by curious eyes on the individuals who name this place residence, how unmoved they’re, not solely by us, but in addition by the climate that Ryu herself finds so new and unusual. On this manner, it’s by noticing and portray the environment that she highlights her personal newness to the area and distances herself from her topics. On this muting, all components develop into equal, flattening the work’s content material in order that the narratives inside are now not centered and as a substitute this distance itself involves the forefront. The rising fog due to this fact comprises a contradiction: it hides as a lot because it reveals, describing what can’t be recognized, separating the viewer from the inner narratives whereas additionally revealing the actual fact of this separation. Ryu by no means seems in her work straight however as a substitute by her absence, watching on with the viewer whereas she herself refuses to be watched.
at Peres Initiatives, Berlin
till January 6, 2024