We are really enjoying the work of South Korean artist Hyon Gyon Park this morning. Park had her first solo exhibition in the US at Shin Gallery in NYC this spring. We were lucky enough to catch some of her large-scale work in person at ArtMRKT in San Francisco this year and it is truly spectacular.
Originally from Korea, Hyon Gyon Park now resides in Kyoto, Japan. Her large-scale paintings use traditional Korean shamanistic imagery to explore feelings of pain, anger, sadness, and resentment, which are often suppressed within us. Her lurid canvases are a place where these emotions can be expressed and perhaps even purified. Hyon Gyon draws inspiration from the Korean shamanistic ritual of Gut (Exorcism). During Gut, Korean ancestors often face harsh realities and pray for better lives. The sentiments that are expressed during this ritual, including obsessions over life, fear of darkness, and the desire for something that is not in one’s possession, are often thought of as ugly. But through the violent extraction of these emotions, they transcend the ugliness, becoming ironic and almost laughable. This explosion of suppressed negative energy is a fundamental aspect of Hyon Gyon’s work. Otherworldly figures with wild hair and sharp swords float within shadowy backgrounds. Emotions are depicted as colorful rainbows bursting from within figures. Pictures of everyday objects emerge as they would within a memory. Happiness, ugliness, and pleasure collide and harmonize in Hyon Gyon’s enigmatic pieces, providing a place where the viewer can search for new possibilities within the darkness. Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Hyon Gyon’s artwork is the unconventional material used to create these vicarious worlds. In Untitled, clothing is ripped apart and melted to the panel, forming a frighteningly mystical face. In R.I.P, aluminum leaf is strategically placed, drawing viewers into the mouth of a striking creature of death. The pieces are both alluring and upsetting; the materials enticing the viewer into a world of bedlam. Born in 1979 in South Korea, Hyon Gyon Park received her PhD and MA from the Kyoto City University of Arts in Kyoto, Japan and her BFA from Mokwon University in Mokwon, South Korea. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Korea, Japan and the United States. Recent solo shows include a 2011 exhibition at the Kyoto Art Center in Kyoto, Japan and a 2012 exhibition at the g3 Gallery in Tokyo. She has been the recipient of many fellowships including the 2012 Kyoto City Special Bounty of Art and Culture. This is Hyon Gyon’s first solo exhibition in the United States.