Art In America

Hyon Gyon

at Shin Gallery,
322 Grand Street

Hyon Gyon’s show “She’s A Riot,” occupying both the main gallery and a project space around the corner, violates every stereotype of contemporary Korean art. Rigid formalism, overly refined facture, pervading calm, implicit spirituality—all these are out the window in Hyon Gyon’s practice. The thirty-seven-year-old artist, who spent eight years in Japan and earned a PhD in painting at the Kyoto City University of the Arts before moving to New York in 2014, is much more indebted to shamanism, pop culture, Gutai, and Rimbaud’s deregulation of all the senses than to Korea’s modern Dansaekhwa movement. Her Self-Portrait (2016), a mattress cluttered with paint-splattered clothes and shoes, plush toys, and a purple wig, is a more playful version of Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998). The semi-abstract wall piece Eleven Minutes (2014), titled after Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s heartbreaking 2003 erotic novel, features tiny nude dolls awash in a churned-up mass of fabric, stuffing, and pink-smeared candle wax. Other assemblages by the former fabric designer combine monstrous faces with streaks of precious gold leaf—an echo, perhaps, of the deeply conflicted experience (watching a shaman purge her dead grandmother’s spirit from the household) that first stirred Hyon Gyon’s artistic impulses. —Richard Vine


Pictured: Installation view of Hyon Gyon's "She's a Riot," 2017; at Shin Gallery, New York.

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