Cindy Ji Hye Kim - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, April 16, 2021 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Making her auction debut, the Canadian-Korean artist Cindy Ji Hye Kim is being celebrated with growing critical acclaim following an increasing number of solo exhibitions, most recently at Rodolphe Janssen from May-July 2020.


    Born in South Korea, and growing up in Toronto, Cindy Ji Hye Kim studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design before doing an MFA in painting at Yale University. Cindy Ji Hye Kim’s works combine the skills acquired in her training, creating a surface that explores the humour in horror, female representation and voyeurism through a technique both routed in art history and the graphic present day. Playful cartoon figures are contrasted by dark and complex subject matter making difficult sinister undertones consumable, viewable and amusing.'I've always loved this element of art: that it reflects the truth without claiming to be true.' —Cindy Ji Hye Kim

    Perfectly embodied in Whispers, 2017, are the contradictions that fascinate and drive Cindy Ji Hye Kim with an overriding sense of play. The shock of the drill driving towards the head is contrasted by the jovial jester shoes and elongated nose. The protagonist is one of three reoccurring characters within Kim’s works: the housewife mother, the capitalist father, and as per the present example, the schoolgirl child. She notes, ‘To me, it's a metaphorical family defined by work, constantly held up in the production of time. To me, the capitalist father represents the past, the memories that course through my veins. The housewife is a possible cut-out of the future, and the schoolgirl is the paralyzing present. The schoolgirl has all the qualities of a protagonist: fated, tragic and comic, and full of doubt. I want to charge this family triad with violence and libidinal energy, as I see these emotions as a defence against indolence and passivity, which I see as the main interruption to the narrative structure. The cycle of arousal and repulsion towards fate becomes the eternal task for the schoolgirl.’i


    Kim’s works demonstrate, with a draftsperson’s elegance and precision, a continued study of grisaille, a monochromatic drawing method traditionally associated with an underpainting scheme from which an engraver makes a print, designed to be worked on top of. Fascinated with the psychological element in artists’ sketchbooks which reveal the imaginings of the artist, Kim has referenced amongst her artistic influences Proust's drafts of Swann's Way, x-rays of Degas's sculptures and Balthus's numerous revisions of his paintings. The physical advantages of graphite allow for the immediate transition from imagination to the surface. She notes, ‘I'm attracted to graphite because it is banal and ubiquitous. A pencil is the most immediate medium for me, like a voice to my hand. I'm also attracted to how graphite interacts with light, especially when I make paint out of the powder. I think graphite has a wonderful combination of both shyness and aggression compared to other colours. It shines and fades in unexpected places.’ii Applying multiple mediums to the surface; acrylic, ink, pastel, graphite and oil paint, Kim injects her works with darkly poetic painterly gestures, presenting the viewer with a convoluted, intriguing pictorial narrative. 

    i Cindy Ji Hye Kim in interview with JUXTAPOZ, 25 March 2020, online 
    ii Cindy Ji Hye Kim in interview with JUXTAPOZ, 25 March 2020, online

    • Provenance

      ARTSY Rema Hort Mann Foundation: Benefit Auction, New York, 27 September 2019
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner



signed and dated 'Cindy Ji Hye Kim 2017' on the overlap; signed 'Cindy Ji Hye Kim' on the reverse
oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and graphite on canvas
182.5 x 147.5 cm (71 7/8 x 58 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £25,200

Contact Specialist


Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+ 44 20 7318 4065



20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 16 April 2021