Fleeting Eternities • Myonghi

13 March - 12 April 2015

The exhibition presented 51 pieces of representative recent works of the France-based Korean abstract style painter Myonghi.


Born in 1947 in Daegu, South Korea and settled down in France in 1972, Myonghi selects painting objects from the nature and presents a world that is captured by her unique sensibility, in abstract strokes of strong personal character.


Apart from some exhibitions at museums and poem parties where she worked with poets on poem and painting pairing, Myonghi has all along been conducting a quiet life and focusing on the pursuit of her ideal art of painting. Nevertheless, she gains recognition and respect from prestigious experts in academic circles, including philosopher Philippe Lacoue Labarthe and poet Alain Jouffroy. Mr. Dominique de Villepin, the former Prime Minister of France, is also a poet and an art critic with a wide knowledge in abstract form of art. He is full of praise for Myonghi as an artist, and describes her as "a gem known only to insiders".


Especially for the catalogue to be published in connection with this exhibition, Mr. De Villepin has written a very comprehensive article in which he gives in-depth analyses of the style of Myonghi and her status as an artist.


To quote Mr. De Villepin,


"Her art becomes a link between the East and the West. But it is not a one way link, on the contrary it is a path one can take in every direction and a place where the aspirations of the East and of the West can meet, but where can also interlink other meetings, other inspirations, other civilizations. 


Myonghi opens doors that nobody had guessed were there…She started with Western art, as the witness of a generation with worldwide horizons. She came back later on but without any disowning and without any conversion to any teachings, both philosophical and technical of Eastern painting. This path towards the past can be seen in the modifications of the paintings, in a new dialectic of the sign and of the color.


Some similarities can be found, with the difference of one generation, between the path of a Zao Wou-ki trained to European modern art during his youth before discovering his own artistic identity and Myonghi's progression, between the poles of Korea and Touraine… 


Myonghi's paintings…are alive. They are out of time. They are absolutely present. They are efficient, which means that they influence those who look at them…They radiate the power of joy that made them arise, this bliss of the painting that so few artists are able to capture, live and return and that Myonghi has been endowed with, as it has for example been the case for Zao Wou-ki… 


She is one of the greatest artists overlapping two centuries and rooted into the worlds. She is one of the voices that count and that will count to bear witness of the modifications of the world and of the new aspirations."


Myonghi paints in a way similar to poetry writing. Whether by way of a big size oil painting or a simple drawing on paper, her works are serious and solid in structure, with all excess details trimmed off.  None of her strokes is unnecessary.


The work Village depicts a vista view from Andeok Valley to Daepyeong in Jeju. On the painting are just layers of small irregular patches and outlines of different colors, which are crossing and interlacing with each other, but not any recognizable objects. The margins at the bottom and on both sides of this two-meter work are left blank, so that the semi-oval main body looks like hanging upside down in the air. At its lower part, a thick pile of golden fragments are trembling, which must be the reflection of sunshine splashing on a close bush. In the middle, there are thick and thin, large and small, curvy and convoluted patches of light yellow, light beige, light green and light blue. Is it not a faraway forest resting in the breeze, with footprints and stories hidden in it? On the top, the boundless sky emerges in the form of rolling light blue and white beads. This is a landscapes stretching from close to far, in a delicately knit structure. Both impressionist and abstract styles are applied, in accordance with the natural flow of the pictorial composition, and they are integrated with each other seamlessly. 


The work Touraine is another good example, the raw canvas remains in its natural beige color, with only a few patches of light green and pale grey, which are as thin as water stains, hardly noticeable. On top of them are a few lumps of slightly reflective silver, which, intermingled with certain light earthy and yellow colors, are spinning like big and small swirls. Are they breezes? Clouds? Flowers or forests? The usual reflections of mountains and lakes have all gone, through a kind of sublimation, is it because the world shown in this painting in fact exists only in dreams? Here the painter uses the gentlest possible touches of brush, yet amazingly, lighter are her strokes, firmer she grasps our hearts.


Myonghi has travelled to all parts of the world, from Desert Gobi to the glazier in Patagonia, to do sketching. While she selects painting objects from the nature, the world she depicts is unbelievable. Myonghi steps out of the norms, puts aside prior perceptions, and extracts the void and the concrete from each other.  She persists in analyzing exterior appearances and in exploring the logics behind pictorial structures and color senses. She smashes the 'world' and digs into its very nature and identifies its core, for the purpose of  producing her own alternate dimension, which is a realm transcending beyond all territorial limits, beyond time, culture, history, as well as all other boundaries. 


The paintings of Myonghi have been exhibited in important museums, including National Museum of Contemporary Art (South Korea), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), National Art Museum of China (Beijing, China) and Shanghai Art Museum (China).