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Min Woo Nam: 'Nothing New Under the Sun' 

23 February - 23 March, 2024

13 Tottenham Mews, London 

 

Private View:  22 February, 6-8 pm

lbf contemporary is delighted to announce 'Nothing New Under the Sun', the debut UK solo exhibition by Korean Artist Min Woo Nam.

 

Reflecting on Nam’s immersion in the UK coastal town of Margate and the influence of Herman Melville’s 'Moby Dick', ‘Nothing New Under the Sun’ is a deeply introspective journey. Through meticulous attention to geometry and colour, Nam’s paintings evoke emotional depth and mathematical satisfaction, drawing parallels to philosophical musings and the transformative power of art. Inspired by Agnes Martin’s well-proportioned compositions and Plato’s timeless geometry, Nam’s paintings invite viewers into a contemplative space amidst the modern-day deluge of technology.

I found myself in Margate, driven by an insatiable desire to witness the sea and its expansive horizons. This was not merely a conscious choice; it was an intense craving, a relentless yearning to align my paintings with nature and immerse myself fully in the profound essence of my existence—the very core of my soul.

 

Soon after, I picked up one of the greatest American novels, "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. Turning pages, I slowly imbued myself with Ishmael—the protagonist who embarks on his journey for whaling. Then the realisation came to me with a sudden spark—the anecdote coalesced with the elements of engenderment in my paintings.

 

"Not much, nothing but water; considerable horizon, though" was what I witnessed on the east coast of England. Upon looking at the sea throughout the day, I found it endlessly captivating to observe horizons at various points in time—to a certain extent, where I was dubious about my "Self," assimilating to the character Haller in "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse, where he grapples with the different facets of his personality depending on the places. 

 

It's neither random nor a whim of chance, I pondered. I thought of Agnes Martin and her well-proportioned paintings. The aesthetic harmony of horizontal lines and vertical lines could make value and meaning within the painting, just like the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio have an intriguing mathematical relationship between nature and aesthetics.

 

Geometry, as acknowledged by Plato, stands as a timeless, universal language. I realised that it was also one of the most crucial components of my current underlying paintings. I carefully considered the sizes for the canvases and the right proportions in each of the works. The layout may be simple, but it takes many hours to get the proportions, demarcations, and colours just right. Although it is painstaking to get everything right, I find it tremendously satisfying when I complete each piece on its impulse.

 

I deliberately choose colours imbued with a sense of foreboding for my palette. Engaged in the process of blending pigments to form unique colours, I navigate through an array of infinite possibilities. The slightest addition of pigments exerts a profound influence on the entire colour palette, rendering the process irreversible. I find a sense of appreciation in this method of painting, cherishing the inherent complexity it introduces to my artistic creations.
 

These choices are anchored in my conviction that art should elicit potent emotions, drawing viewers into the enchanting unknown, reminiscent of the transformative experience of walking into a chapel. Across history, religion has recognised the profound impact of art, nurturing belief beyond the natural world and providing resilience in the face of nature's inherent absurdity. In our generation, the pursuit is not religious; rather, it is a quest to salvage our souls from the onslaught of technology, which threatens to mutilate our senses.

 

I wish to expel what I have received, and I hope these comprehensive works bring narratives to our own individual existence.
 

– Min Woo Nam

02. 02 . 24.  

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MIN WOO NAM

Born 1994, Seoul

Lives and works in London, UK

 

Min Woo Nam is a Korean artist living and working in London. Min Woo graduated from the London School of Economics in 2016. After graduation, he was conscripted into the Korean army and served for two years. During his service, he was stationed in South Sudan as part of the UN peacekeeping force. The unfamiliar environment there inspired him to embark on a personal exploration of the nature of existence and the notion of ‘Self’. His paintings serve as conduits to realms beyond the ordinary, inviting viewers to transcend mundane experiences and delve into profound depths of existence. With meticulous precision in colour choices and brushstrokes, Min Woo strives to evoke powerful moods and create immersive experiences that capture the ever-evolving consciousness. The artist's work guides us towards abstract and conceptual understanding and encourages viewers to embark on transformative journeys of self-reflection and profound discovery. Highlights of recent exhibitions include ‘Within and Beyond’, Rosenfeld Gallery, London (2023); ‘Nouvelle Vague’, lbf contemporary, London; ‘Timescapes’, Shtager&Shch, London (2023); 'Passages’, D Contemporary, London (2023); Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London (2022).

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