28 Mar 2019 — 27 Apr 2019
You Hyeonkyeong
be happy

When asked to explain her works, YOU Hyeonkyeong kept her silence for some time. She waited for the questions to come, while observing reactions. When she finally described her works, she used the term interaction. The word was used as it is, to describe the interdependence of the self's revelation to the existence of the other. For all people, the self is found through conflict and differentiation with others. My character appearance, personality, and temperament are aggregate analytical data; a result of interacting with the other.

YOU Hyeonkyeong’s portraits are outcomes of such interactions. According to her, the intention was to paint the subjects as unaffected to any prejudice. Such intentions are clearly observable in her choice of formative style which changes by model. It is also clear when drawing the same person. YOU explains that facing what she did not wish to draw, the outcome of the relentless interactions drove her to draw. So, in a way, all character painting work would have been a process of acknowledging the other and accepting the fact that the other was a condition of the self's existence. Without this process, the artist will be unable to paint, and be no longer a painter metaphorically nor realistically.

The solo exhibition at Gallery 2, there are no character paintings within the exhibition hall. Now it is our turn. Preparations are needed to accept the interaction between the self and the artist's works. YOU Hyeonkyeong spent most of 2014 in Z?rich and Ticino of Switzerland, as well as some months in London. Her paintings concentrated on landscape rather than characters. Her awareness that she was in an unfamiliar environment that was no longer Korea; her life was no longer defined by a singular place, and she began looking to her environment. She refers to that year as a time of 'pure drawing bliss'.

The landscapes YOU has painted is not easy to recognize as landscape paintings. The viewer chases after such traces of landscapes into the scene but that sifts through like find sand in hand. Only the brushstrokes remained. YOU adds inks only the outline, or lightly dabs the canvas and adds movement sans colors. It leaves the beholder with a few distinct impressions. Ink and brushstrokes have long been considered the means to depict anything. Despite that possibility, YOU chooses pleasure of potential, to seek free-spirited swimming on canvas. Perhaps this potential and pleasure is distinct to painting. There is a free-handedness to it; it will not be reproduced.

It is only when we find ourselves thrust into a certain world that we also find ourselves responding in earnest to that world. To YOU Hyeonkyeong, that world was both the inner world of the other, and the sight of an exotic landscape. A certain world, be it a physical landscape or a person, it is a given set of standard and environment. When such a set of standard and environment is provided, recognizing its essence in a glance just not possible. As her paintings are an interaction between everything that is the self and everything else that is not, it is on the boundary, a temporary circumstance that we are passing by.

Another exhibition hall is filled with graffiti-like, doodle-like paintings, such as , which is about the homeless people of New York. Told through a metaphor using dogs, and those other painting were all based on portraits that she had painted over years. The playful doodle-like paintings willfully deny being set in certain styles, painting and writing as she pleases. The works cannot be described in terms of a singular style or code. While YOU Hyeonkyeong's character paintings and landscape paintings embody confidence, focus, and the ability to change things, her more playful works embody a more unique tastes that were impulsive and even oxymoronic at times. Her statement that character paintings were helpful; does that only mean the formative aspect? What if the question was on whether the inner self became vocal only after interaction with the other?

YOU Hyeonkyeong had mainly presented large-scale character portraits made a decisive move to remove all of them for this exhibition. She described that her intentions coming into this exhibition was the evolved brushstrokes and the non-conceptual conceptualization. The paintings are saturated with low-hanging fruits and banal settings, euphemisms and innuendos, but those are just the substrates for paintings. The actual message is contained in the brushstrokes. Her paintings are a comprehensive analysis of herself, revealed through the interaction with the others.
Installation view