We’ve enjoyed seeing Mari Kim’s work on display in London galleries over the past few years, so it was a real treat to be able to meet her when she came over recently for the opening of her show at Pontone Gallery.
The works on display this time showed a slightly different direction: still the same doe-eyed cartoon-like female characters, said to be avatars of the artist herself, but located in the decorative world of the early decades of the 20th century.
The images are a homage to art deco and art nouveau artists such as Alphonse Mucha, Erté and Georges Lepape. The collection explores feminine beauty through the representation of women in masterpieces of that era.
The artist attended the opening viewing in a striking blue dress and matching wig with the additional decorative touch of white paper stickers, which remained from an open-air performance earlier that evening. She introduces the performance thus:
As part of this project, I will conduct a performance in homage to Yayoi Kusama’s 1967-1969 ‘Polka Dot’ performances, experimenting with the public attitude towards the shape of the female figure by asking strangers to place polka dots on my body. I am very interested to find out how people will react to the performance in different public spaces. My experiment will focus on the response variation between gender, nationality and religion. I am expecting the unexpected.
Performances took place in Duke of York Square, just across the road from Pontone Gallery, just before the opening viewing, and also the next day outside Tate Modern (with a guest appearance from Yoda):