December 29, 2023
Circling the surfaces of vessels or layered onto stacks of folded laundry, the scenes in Danym Kwon’s paintings evoke memories and emotions of togetherness and home. “The images I paint are all taken from everyday life, but through the use of pastel colors and surrealistic staging, they are transformed into more special scenes, recorded and cherished more dearly,” the artist tells Colossal ahead of her forthcoming solo exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary, A Soft Day.
Kwon is drawn to calming portrayals of comforting, common sights. After a challenging period in her life, she feels it’s important to convey vitality and brightness, explaining:
I was diagnosed with cancer in my early thirties, just a year after giving birth to my second child. Through these hardships, I found solace in the comfort provided by surroundings. I found immense gratitude and peace in the trees and flowers, and sometimes in the quiet sight of my child sleeping. These moments were fleeting, but they gave me great energy, and I wanted to remember them.
Influenced by traditional Korean folk and still life painting—known as Chaekgado—Kwon incorporates everyday objects like vases or books into idealized landscapes where the empty backgrounds may be interpreted as infinitely dimensional spaces. “I place scenes that I want to remember or that have given me warm inspiration into domestic objects like bowls or piles of laundry,” she says. Inside containers or on the creases of fabrics, people walk hand-in-hand, a child swims or tinkers, or small cars travel through verdant landscapes, giving the impression of parallel time periods and moving through different dimensions.
The motif of a tiny home repeats throughout Kwon’s paintings, which she describes as an important element. “Seeing a house standing alone on a vast land reminds me of myself and my family living in America as immigrants,” she says. “The house sometimes represents me and sometimes my family… Sometimes, we are so consumed by our busy lives that we overlook precious moments. I hope that through my work, people can find a moment of comfort and cherish the valuable moments in life.”
A Soft Day runs January 6 to 27 at Hashimoto Contemporary’s new Minnesota Street location in San Francisco. Kwon’s work is also currently included in Lone Splendor at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia, which continues through January 7. See more on the artist’s website and Instagram.
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