A massive undertaking that spans both Patrick Painter Inc. spaces at Bergamot Station, Won Ju Lim's latest offering stems from travel she did as part of a Tribeca Film Institute/Rockefeller Foundation Media Arts Fellowship to five European cities, each known for its variation upon Northern Baroque architecture: Dresden, Munich, St. Petersburg, Prague and Vienna. In the exhibition aptly titled "Baroque Pet Shop" in Painter's west gallery, photographic and video records, as well as what might be called sculptural sketches and impressions of her travels, are cross-pollinated with the aesthetics of a pet shop. With projections rotating across forms consisting of stemware and other found glass objects, rough architectural models in materials ranging from cardboard to aluminum foil, and cut-out silhouettes, the show becomes as much an exercise in shadow theater as in sculpture. Interspersed among this oddly soothing yet cacophonous, impressionistic travelogue are forms abstracting the lines of pet-store items. Looking at them, one variously associates scratching posts, aquariums and fishbowls, perches or Habitrails. Across the way, in Painter's east gallery, the same unexpected impulse to merge experiences of the architectural tour and the pet store plays itself out in more discrete sculptural forms and collage works. Together, the paired shows comprise Lim's goofiest and most playful work to date, but these shows also share the baseline seriousness of endeavor found in her prior exhibitions. Present as ever is Lim's material curiosity and sensitivity, evident here in works such as a sculpture that seems to have been generated by repeatedly rotating a cylindrical form with some kind of liquid plastic compound inside, resulting in an interior something like a tornado of drips. Equally present is her preoccupation with light, image, illusion and shadows, and their unexpected sources. Lim's exhibition becomes both evocative playground and homage to the wandering and associative mind. The itches of wanderlust and nostalgia are scratched by illusion and allusion.
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Won Ju Lim at Patrick Painter Inc. Through June 19, 2525 Michigan Ave. (Bergamot Station), Units A8 & B2, Santa Monica, patrickpainter.com