Ham Jin (b. 1978, Seoul, Korea) achieved nationwide attention for his comedic microscopic clay figures while still attending Kyungwon University in 1999. The size of a fingernail, these bright and delicate sculptures were obsessive, personal replications of ordinary and trivial objects. Fun and tinged with fantasy, the works carried a childlike imagination; quoted by the Guangzhou Triennial, he interpreted them as spectacle[s] that [are] part of everyday life but invisible to the eye.
Since then, the artist has kept to the themes of miniatures and invisibility, but has taken his art to darker places. Limiting his material to black polymer clay, the artist’s recent sculptures and installations are subdued, minimalist and abstract – sinisterly ethereal. But the extent of his technique is still visible, perhaps more than ever, upon close inspection: using a magnifying glass, audiences will be able to discern intricate human faces and New York City buildings emerging out of the unidentifiable black matter.
The astonishing level of surreptitious detail symbolises the presence of hidden truths in society. The artist invites viewers to peer through the gaps to register the invisible, the grotesque and the unseen sufferings of the world.
The artist received a BFA in Sculpture from Kyungwon University and has held solo and group exhibitions around the world. He is currently participating in the Busan Biennale 2014, and his biennale statement explains his artistic pathway:
[My] previous works were invisible in space so one [...] discover[s] them like a four-leaf clover. My [recent] works including the black series and other recent ones are visible in space but their implications are invisible. Nothing is clear, like dust or mist [...] but with a closer look, there are many shapes interlocking with different thoughts, like semi-abstraction.