Pop artist Mari Kim explores alien life


Pop artist Mari Kim explores alien life – Artist Mari Kim, known for the big-eyed, cartoon-like female characters in her pop art paintings, explores the eccentric concept of intelligent aliens in her solo exhibition.

One of the leading figures in the Korean pop art scene, Kim transforms her “eyedolls” into aliens disguised as human beings, revealing her long-held belief in intelligent alien beings. Her solo exhibition at Hakgojae Gallery showcases 189 paintings, installations, sculptures and video works — her visual exploration of extraterrestrial life.


“I have always been interested in the existence of aliens,” she said at the press preview of her solo exhibition last week.

While the theme may be viewed as strange as the existence of aliens is to us, Kim stretched out her hypothesis on extraterrestrial life quite seriously — who they are, where they come from and where are they headed.

The show titled “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” is divided into three parts — Genesis, Present and Future and Beyond, each chronicling the “transition of intelligent lives on earth.”

At the entrance of the gallery she welcomes viewers with a neon sign of the Drake equation, which estimates the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the universe. One of her eyedolls asks, “Where is Everybody?” — a question raised by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who said that Earth should have been visited by intelligent aliens already, based on his estimate of more than 1 million intelligent alien civilizations.

“I thought we, human beings, actually might have come from outside the Earth because we have caused serious environmental damage to our planet,” she said. “We could be aliens, as we are completely different beings from other species on Earth.”


She presents a variety of her eyedoll characters in diverse costumes and styles, giving identities to each character. Their big, oval eyes reflect the greed of human beings in dominating Earth, Kim explained, but greed has ruined the planet, leading them to prepare to leave Earth.

The life-size eyedoll sculptures lead viewers to the Future and Beyond section of the exhibition. Here, she presents abstract images and a video installation — her mediums for the artist. The video work shows destructive, apocalyptic images, visualizing the end of the world, as well as more abstract images portraying the departure from Earth to space.

Kim rose to fame with her collaboration with the K-pop girl group 2NE1 in 2011. She created eyedoll versions of the group‘s four members and directed their “Hate You” music video that depicted them as action heroines. She has also collaborated with several cosmetics brands, which use her eyedoll characters to appeal to young Korean and other Asian women.

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