V1 Gallery presents


A solo exhibition by Monica Kim Garza

OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY AUGUST 14. 2020. 17.00 – 21.00


Closer through isolation; this was the outset for Monica Kim Garza at the end of 2019. Sparked by thoughts of intimate moments and an interest in the dynamic between groups, self and solitude, Kim Garza hoped to get closer to her practice and create works revolving around intimacy and multifaceted emotions. Works that could engage and communicate with the viewer in a precise and personal manner, a close conversation in which silence, eyes, brows, mouth are equal conductors of emotion. So, she entered a state of semi self-isolation to focus on creating a new body of work, unaware that early 2020 would bring a full force pandemic isolation.

The first body of Closer consists of large-scale pastose portraits, painted in vivid oil colours with accents of metallic acrylics. In one composition, two women drink wine, content smiles and a silent affection linger between them as they draw you into their personal space, The Wine Tasters (are you thinking what I’m thinking), 2020, 147.5 x 203 cm. In another, a lone woman with a lot on her mind takes a long drag of a cigarette; eyes slightly narrowed, both present- and absent-minded. You only sense that she is naked, the composition, which is cropped hard with only half a nipple is visible, is titled Relieving My Stress, 2020, 142 x 162.5 cm. You feel her, you feel with her, you feel close to her. In a vertical composition, a seated nude woman caressing a brown dog by her legs, observes you observing her, gauging you with a mixture of compassion and disinterest. She is empowered in her naked state. Assured. The work is titled In the Lonely Hours, My Best Friend Comforts Me (my dog is better than yours), 2020, 203 x 142 cm. Adapting a compositional strategy akin to portraiture, Kim Garza brings you Closer to the work and her.

In the transition between isolations, from self-chosen to chaotic government enforced, Kim Garza’s sentiments began to shift, as the second body of Closer emerged. Smaller paintings and works on paper reflect the nostalgia for freedom of choice, socialising in the streets, in restaurants and bars. Many of these works are painted with a loser gesture, seemingly conveying memories and longing at a quicker pace. In one composition, titled Important Conversations (2020, 45.5 x 61 cm), four women sit at a round table engaged in conversation, drinking and eating, nude and content. Painted in a dash, another composition titled The Tequila Bar (2020, 45.5 x 61 cm) finds seven naked women congregating. You sense the jovial clamour, the good times, and you yearn for the bar as it was in pre-pandemic times.

All the women represented in the works share similar bodily- and ethnical features, because they all embody the protagonist; Monica Kim Garza. The women going to bars, drinking wine, eating noodles, having sex, contemplating being, worries, happiness, love, despair and hope, are Kim Garza’s body doubles and soulmates. The unmistakable features are that of a true American. Kim Garza is the daughter of immigrant parents; her mother is of Korean descent and her father of Mexican lineage. She has composed an idiosyncratic character that roams through art history and the ups and downs of contemporary life, often nude and always with purpose.

Closer reflects the mixed emotions most have experienced in isolation. Nuanced and empathic. The multiple Kim Garzas become synonymous with the viewer. Cycles of intense being, joy, despair, love, frustration and careful optimism are shattered by pessimism, and then briefly relieved by hope. Though violently apart as a community, we have never been Closer in ashared experience.

Monica Kim Garza (born 1988 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA) lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She holds a BFA in painting and drawing from California College of Arts and has exhibited widely throughout the United States. Recent exhibitions include PUNCH LA, curated by Nina Chanel Abney, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Los Angeles, Orange and Cinnamon, New Image Art, Los Angeles and Cucul, Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris. Closer is her second solo exhibition with V1 Gallery.