Artist's Butterfly Collection

Nam, Kyung Min2009

Korean Art Museum Association

Korean Art Museum Association
Seoul, South Korea

The artist depicts a museum, which preserves the past, an arch-shaped classical architectural structure, an angle from the Annunciation, classical structures, and other old things to a point in the present. Such things, which have been familiar from long ago, are no longer familiar. They now present inner tension and a strange fear like before a storm due to archaic stillness and the movement of butterflies that shake it, and the subtle intersection of light and darkness.


  • Title: Artist's Butterfly Collection
  • Creator: Nam, Kyung Min
  • Date Created: 2009
  • Physical Dimensions: w2423 x h1620 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on linen
  • Critic's Note: Since her solo exhibition in 2005 until now, Nam Kyung-Min has continued to paint indoor landscapes; which include artists' studios, butterfly collections and study series. The most important fact in Nam's paintings is that it is not actual landscapes expressed on the picture-plane, but an invisible domain that was created by them. The unreal landscape that overlaps on top of the actual landscape is, to quote the artist, a "mindscape," and a world of "meta-reality," which transcends all ideas about the phenomenal world. Though indoor objects (such as, tables, chairs, beds, bookcases, windows and mirrors) are painted on a picture-plane of vivid colors, the reason the planes do not seem friendly and come to us with certain strangeness and with a nuance of alienation or solitude is because of the dual structure of the picture-plane. This consists of three components: layers of time and space, objects of symbolism and allegory, and the tensions created by absence and silence. Nam Kyung-Min’s representative series of paintings are based on the admiration toward classic and art historical texts, and homage to the masters who gave her inspiration. From the Renaissance to the 20th century, original texts of art history have been the archive for Nam's references and quotes. The butterfly represents the feeble, delicate artistic disposition and the flow of artists' self-consciousness. The candle travels between existence and non-existence through the state of burning and being blown out, while the wings reveal the two sides of desire for flight and endless fall as in those of Icarus. The hourglass symbolizes the flow and stop of time, and the limit of life. The lily symbolizes pureness and truthfulness. The transparent bottle is the essence of unchangeable truth, but also shares the duality called weakness due to its easily breakable nature. The Jesus statue, which appears from time to time is "God" as a seeker of truth, but also a "human" with internal sadness. The objects in Nam Kyung-Min's paintings carry codes of death and loss as represented in the skulls, candles and wings, but also evoke philosophical epistemology; such as, life and death, or existence and time. Perhaps, this is why her paintings are filled with "sensuous" colors and are open for space of "thought?" (2011)
  • Collection: Samhwa Corporation, Seoul
  • Artist's Education: Duksung Women's University. Seoul, Korea. M.F.A., Painting.

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