South Korean painter Yeon Soo Kim’s work deals with strong themes of dissolution and fusion as they relate to the greater theme of cultural diversity in the modern world, albeit using a very unique approach. For Kim, the contemporary self-portrait, as well as the lens for viewing our modern, globalized and tech-oriented society is best translated through the idea of a spider. During her first stint living abroad with her husband in Australia, Kim encountered a wild tarantula in person for the first time, filling her with tension and fear. Following this encounter, whenever she found herself in an unfamiliar situation, she recalled this memory and sensation, and as such began to relate the image of a spider with the idea of being in an unfamiliar cultural environment.
Since that initial encounter, Kim has found that spiders can, in many ways, act as metaphors for our world and way of life. For instance, spiders interact with the world through sensation and touch in the case of their webs, relying more heavily on sensation than rationality, feeling their way through life and the world. Further, due to the internet, modern humans now also interact with the outside world indirectly much of the time, using the internet as our ‘web’ to reach one another. Beyond direct metaphor, also, the nature of the shape of a spider allows it to take on exceptionally emotive qualities when painted, allowing them to also be viewed expressively.