Mihee Nahm

 Nahm says: I create paintings and drawings addressing broad themes such as memory and time. The ideas I am interested in the most are the fragility of human memory and our constant desire to retain, alter, or forget the past. With these ideas in mind, I attempt to capture poignant landscape I encounter from my daily commute and walk: puddles, fallen leaves, clumps of cut grass, a defunct well, rain traces recorded on sand, nightscape and etc.. My work begins from constant observation. Subtle changes in the time of the day, the weather and the mood I am in alter the characteristics of the things observed. The surrounding environment mirrors my state of mind. Previously, I worked on still life paintings of the sentimental objects from my past. These objects were set up in the studio where windows were blocked off to maintain consistent lighting. I spent countless hours looking at the objects and painted from observation. Two years ago, my sudden move back to Texas uprooted me once again from my home country of South Korea. The leafy and earthy Texas landscape brought about nostalgia within me which I once felt from objects of my past. I began photographing and painting to hold onto these fleeting imageries as I wanted to hold on to the past through still life. The degree of mimesis varies from painting to painting. The numerous images collected daily are categorized and archived to be composited and manipulated. These source images are then painted using oil and acrylic. Once the basic information is laid out on the surface many layers of thin paint are applied to get the right value and color. The form is slowly built up through layered shapes until edges appear to define the form. Many times, the final painting deviates from the source image in form, color and mood. Recently, I have been working with images of rainy days and twilight skies. The painting called “Soaked” is a portrait of clumps of cut grass on a rainy day. The color is exaggerated as the wetness deepens the contrast. Speed can be felt through fast brush strokes, but the detailed, colored leaves amidst surrounding greens invite viewers to take a closer look. The dampness and smell of rain in the air reminds me of playing in the mud during my childhood in the monsoon seasons. I would like to elicit visceral reactions from the viewer through my paintings as if they are walking in the rain. Asense of poignancy found on rainy days and night skies accentuates the feeling of melancholy. Longing of an unattainable moment in the past and sadness of being away pervades my day to daylife as an expatriate. Nature has a way of allowing me to drift into poignancy. This bitter sweet feelings of melancholy and nostalgia are presented through depictions of nature in this body of work.