News | 1 february 2024

Museum De Lakenhal presents the first Dutch solo exhibition of internationally renowned artist Kimsooja

Museum De Lakenhal is proud to present the exhibition Kimsooja – Thread Roots from 2 March to 21 July 2024. It is the first solo presentation of this internationally acclaimed artist in the Netherlands. In her art, Kimsooja combines personal history with universal themes such as migration, freedom of movement and the feeling of being at home somewhere.

Textiles and migration

Kimsooja is considered to be one of the world’s leading artists. Her work is rooted in Korean traditions and takes shape through a variety of materials and media. In her oeuvre, she combines personal history with global themes such as home, migration and freedom of movement. Textiles as a material and a symbol play a recurring role in her installations, performances, sculptures, films and photographs. For example, her well-known multicoloured bottari – knotted bundles of Korean bedspreads in which personal belongings are transported – refer to the relationship between textiles and migration. These two themes also recur frequently in the collection at Museum De Lakenhal.

Dialogue with the collection

In the exhibition Thread Roots, Kimsooja examines her cultural history in the context of her development as an artist but also in relation to the museum's collection. In the exhibition halls, visitors can watch two films from her Thread Routes series and the monumental installation Meta Painting, in which she reflects on painting as an art form. In addition, Kimsooja's work can be viewed in rooms in which the textile history of Leiden is told. This includes new work created by the artist, in which Korean samples are the starting point for a dialogue with the Leiden textile collection pieces.

Kimsooja, Meta-Painting, 2020. Courtesy of Wanås Konst and Kimsooja Studio. Photo by Mattias Givell
Kimsooja, Meta-Painting, 2020. Courtesy of Wanås Konst and Kimsooja Studio. Photo by Mattias Givell
Kimsooja, To Breathe - Leiden, 2022
Kimsooja, To Breathe - Leiden, 2022 Photo: Jonathan Floréz Brand

Connection with Leiden

Since 1874, Museum De Lakenhal has been housed in the Laecken-Halle, a monumental, seventeenth-century inspection hall for woollen fabrics. Modern-day Leiden has its roots in this textile industry. Kimsooja's work, which connects textile crafts, cultural history and painting, enters into a dialogue with the history of the museum and the city. In 2022, the artist was commissioned by the Lucas van Leyden Fund to realise the temporary artwork To Breathe - Leiden, located right in front of Museum De Lakenhal. In this work, too, the artist refers to Leiden as a textile city, and the arches – which reflect in the water – function as a needle and thread that connect the city and its inhabitants.

Celebrating 150 years of Museum De Lakenhal

Director Tanja Elstgeest is proud that Museum De Lakenhal will be presenting Kimsooja's work. ‘This exhibition is a special way to celebrate our 150th anniversary as a municipal museum. With her contemporary textile art practice, Kimsooja connects past and present from an international perspective. I look forward to introducing our audience to the work of this world-class artist in this way.’

About Kimsooja

Kimsooja was born in South Korea in 1957 and now lives in Paris and Seoul. Her work has previously been shown in numerous locations and museums around the world, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. She represented Korea at the Venice Biennale (2013) and at the São Paulo Biennale (1998) and took part in Kassel Documenta (2017) and many other international biennials and triennials. Her work has won numerous prizes. In 2019, she was awarded the Lucas Art Award by the Leiden Lucas van Leyden Fund.

KIMSOOJA, THREAD ROUTES - CHAPTER IV, 2014 Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio
KIMSOOJA, THREAD ROUTES - CHAPTER VI, 2019 Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio

Publication and public programme

A publication will accompany the exhibition in mid-March, with contributions from Kitty Zijlmans, Amanda Pinatih, Keumhwa Kim, Roel Arkesteijn and Colin Huizing, amongst others. An extensive public programme is being organised in conjunction with the exhibition, with a participation project around textiles and various editions of the College on Sunday lecture series and evening openings at Lakenhal Late.

About the anniversary year of Museum De Lakenhal

The exhibition Kimsooja – Thread Roots is part of a festive anniversary year at Museum De Lakenhal. In this context, the presentation Rembrandt's Four Senses – His First Paintings can also be seen from 20 January to 16 June. In the autumn, the museum and the city will celebrate 450 years of freedom with an exhibition that highlights Leiden's long history of parades.