Myonghi Kang: The South Korean artist who spent three decades on a single painting

Myonghi Kang: The South Korean artist who spent three decades on a single painting

Written by Oscar Holland, CNNHong Kong It was the late 1980s when South Korean artist

Written by Oscar Holland, CNNHong Kong

It was the late 1980s when South Korean artist Myonghi Kang commenced function on her painting “Le temps des camélias” (“The Time of Camellias”). Living in Paris’ 19th arrondissement at the time, she would periodically revisit the then-vertical canvas to increase strokes of coloration or floral forms.

“I would go back again to the portray with all these queries in my thoughts, and memories from traveling,” she recalled, via a translator, in a cellphone interview.

But the painting in no way felt concluded. Kang at some point abandoned her creation, and it was not right up until she took it to South Korea’s Jeju Island in 2007 that she felt inspired to revisit the artwork — and to switch its orientation to that of a conventional horizontal landscape.

“It was only when I introduced the painting to Jeju in springtime that I had the braveness, following 10 years, to function on it again,” she claimed. “I had a ton of camellias in my studio, and so I started bringing in all the components that I saw all-around me.”

Myonghi Kang’s “Le temps des camellia” was ultimately concluded in 2018. Credit: Courtesy of Villepin

It would be yet another 10 years right before the ethereal painting, now on exhibit at Hong Kong’s Villepin gallery, was entire. As these, the perform depicts not only the vibrant flowers alluded to in its title, but the passing of time itself.

“I are not able to seriously describe,” Kang said. “I just felt this painting had to be built like that. I trustworthy the instant — to know the suitable second for me to paint the unique sections until I was finished.”

“I would not dare say that I paint time — that would be really arrogant — but time is in what I paint,” she afterwards additional. “I enable myself be the palms of time. I obey time, but do not try to manipulate it.”

This impulsive technique is usual of Kang, whose quietly radiant artwork reveals her advanced romantic relationship with character. Now in her mid-70s, she can spend decades on a single piece, her generally-light brushstrokes belying a course of action she explained as “extremely, pretty powerful.”

“I just glance at paintings and feel they are not completed. And it can even be really hard to rest,” she stated. “They are generally transferring and progressing, and sometimes I hardly ever get the sensation they are finished. Sometimes, I wish I could have a consume and forget about about it, but it can be not attainable. I often need to have to try out to solve the tiny matters I see each and every working day in entrance of me.”

Myonghi Kang's "La maison de opticien" ("The Optician's House).

Myonghi Kang’s “La maison de opticien” (“The Optician’s Property). Credit history: Courtesy of Villepin

Very instantly, nevertheless, the compulsion to indicator — and therefore complete — a painting will strike her “like a lightning bolt,” she explained.

“It truly is not something that I strategy or know rationally. It is really spontaneous.”

‘Nature is everything’

When Kang’s absorbing paintings show up summary at initially, they are frequently grounded in the entire world about her. But nevertheless her creations resemble landscapes, they by no means depict a solitary unique scene, rather an amalgamation of sights, reminiscences and sensations.

“Just about every moment, from when I wake up to the time I begin working, is part of the painting,” said Kang, who is also recognized for composing poetry. “And memories — probably from 10 several years right before — of wanting at camellias, for case in point, will also be integrated.

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“There is not one figurative way of expressing what I paint. It really is the accumulation of observing — seeking to capture the sky, for illustration — and genuinely seize the ‘whole,’ relatively than a distinct camellia or a specified rock.”

Set across three flooring in Hong Kong, Kang’s newest demonstrate delivers collectively will work from the previous 10 years, which includes the aforementioned “Le temps des camélias.” Paying time with the canvases will help deliver the artist’s hazy subject issue — regardless of whether orange blossom, the dwelling of a neighboring optician or clouds swirling in pale blue skies — into sharper focus.

The gallerist guiding the present, Arthur de Villepin, thinks the work’s beauty is discovered in the smaller “aspects” noticed in its organization.

“You see the distinct levels, and you see that, in some cases, the brushstrokes will be vivid and really fast and stand for a selected section of her character,” he said around the mobile phone from the south of France. “Or sometimes the shades will be pretty vivid. Then at other moments the shades fade away, and that capability to set distinct life at different times … that’s what I located awesome.”

Kang's work on display at Villepin gallery in Hong Kong.

Kang’s work on display screen at Villepin gallery in Hong Kong. Credit score: Courtesy of Villepin

Entire with pure appears enjoying from concealed speakers, the exhibition serves to transport readers away from the busy surrounds of downtown Hong Kong to the bucolic Jeju Island, where by Kang — who lives and operates among South Korea and France — still paints.

“In our minds, nature is grass and trees and bouquets,” Kang explained, when questioned about her romantic relationship with her surroundings. “But character is anything. Character is men and women, it truly is a town, it really is background … Character is a bridge to let dialogue between all items.”

Myonghi Kang” is on at Villepin, Hong Kong, right until Oct. 24, 2021.