Won Ju Lim

Los Angeles

at Patrick Painter


Images washed over the walls like waves and sculptures dotted the floor like stalagmites, lending a surreal sensibil­ity to Won Ju Lim’s installation Baroque Pet Shop (2010). As part of a media arts fellowship from the Tribeca Film Institute (supported by the Rockefeller Foundation), the Korean-born artist recently traveled to Dresden, Munich, St. Petersburg, Prague and Vienna to photograph and film examples of Northern Baroque architecture. Lim made liberal use in this exhibition of the resulting foot­age and, more precisely, memories of her travels. She is interested in layers, both material and conceptual. Lim paired video of Baroque cathedrals with images taken in a pet shop in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles; the juxtaposition might seem heavy-handed but the symbolism is sec­ondary to Lim’s complex orchestration of color, light and shadow.

The darkened main gallery was filled with five projections—two of them rotat­ed, overlapping imagery of architectural embellishments, caged birds and bags of feed—and a series of sculptures grouped like islands throughout the space. The sculptures included minia­ture cities built from foamcore, paper, foil and tape, placed on large white pedestals; glass objects—candy dishes, decanters, cake stands—on two tall metal shelving racks; and free­standing cylindrical forms made of plaster, paper, pigment and acrylic gel medium. The glass objects refracted and reflected the projections onto the walls, floors and other sculptures. The effect was something like being in an aquarium: shadows shift, light shivers and pictures float through space like colorful fish. Despite the familiarity of the constituent elements, the move­ment and hushed ambience induced an otherworldly quality characteristic of Lim’s practice in general.

In the second space were seven collages and five sculptures that con­textualized the installation while being strong independent works. Pieces like Baroque Pet Shop—Activity 4 (2010), featuring a photograph of a birdcage on the left and a drawing of an upside-down cathedral on the right, with gold paint flecked across both, utilize imagery and materials—foamcore, tin foil, cardboard—found in the installa­tion. The sculptures, such as Kitty with Purple Skin, an open cylinder about 3 feet high with a sleek violet exterior and a crystalline interior perched atop a graceful stand, are likewise similar to those in the installation but emboldened by color and texture. Sculptures and collages alike feature circular open­ings, offering views onto other works or revealing pictures beneath the surface. The portholes reinforced the sense of an aqueous environment where meaning, time and space are fluid.

Photos: View of Won Ju Lim’s installation Baroque Pet Shop, 2010, sculptures and video projections; at Patrick Painter.