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François Ghebaly
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Cindy Ji Hye Kim at François Ghebaly

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The first room in Cindy Ji Hye Kim’s exhibition “Soliloquy for Two” feels like a moody prologue to a novel, sparsely outfitted with three wooden lanterns, laser cut with intricate designs and hanging from delicate chains. Small cathedral windows drawn directly into the wall lead the viewer down a hallway to the second gallery, setting up narrative tension and introducing eerie themes of light, looking, and interiority. 

Turn the corner, and the second space booms with drama. Seven grayscale paintings (made on silk rather than canvas) float in the space, creating a kind of central amphitheater for a viewer to be immersed in Kim’s narratives. The paintings are pictorial, like stills from an animation, and repeated archetypes can be found in each: the mother, the father, and the schoolgirl, each with a signature silhouette (the mother’s a ballooning bob with an upcurl). These figures circulate through the works alongside other more ominous symbology like ropes, scorpions, pelvis bones, and crucifixes, making the paintings read like premonitions from a deck of tarot. 

In one of the grisaille paintings, the silhouette of the mother looms behind as the schoolgirl circles around a wheel shape, bound by long tendrils. Rather than literal scenes of torture, Kim’s scenarios feel prophetic and cerebral, symbols of familial imprints and bondage that might be broken through. Typically, a painting’s stretcher bars remain unseen, but here, Kim makes use of this often hidden plane: each painting features a wooden stretcher shaped into different crucifix forms (the cross, a wheel, and a forked cross). Across the delicate silk, shadows from the cross bars cast through the front of the painting too, like a foreshadowing darkness—another narrative trope.

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Photo: Cindy Ji Hye Kim, “Soliloquy for Two,” (installation view), François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery. Photo by Paul Salveson.

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