Spotlight: Korean Artist Myonghi Kang’s Poetic Paintings Are Reminiscences of the Natural World

The artist's work is on show at Villepin gallery in Hong Kong.

Myonghi Kang in her atelier in Jeju, Korea. Photograph by Gary Yeh. Courtesy of Villepin.
Myonghi Kang in her atelier in Jeju, Korea. Photograph by Gary Yeh. Courtesy of Villepin.

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What You Need To Know: Hong Kong gallery Villepin recently opened a new exhibition devoted to the dreamlike canvases of Korean artist Myonghi Kang.

In her works, Myonghi (b. 1947, Daegu, South Korea) renders shapes and colors that call to mind the natural world—blue skies, blooming flowers, approaching storms—but through a language of gestural abstraction.

Living between Paris and South Korea, Myonghi has spent much of the past five decades traveling the world from the Gobi Desert to the glaciers of Patagonia, often alone and with just a few paintbrushes, only to return to her studio to paint the landscapes she’s encountered from memory. This exhibition brings together some of the most luminous examples of her work over the past decade. 

Myonghi Kang's atelier in Jeju, Korea. Photograph by Gary Yeh. Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang’s atelier in Jeju, Korea. Photograph by Gary Yeh. Courtesy of Villepin.

Why We Like It: Myonghi is a prolific poet as well as a painter, and her works possess the evocative restraint found in a well-written line of verse. Bursts of color and shape are set against quiet passages that let the mind conjure up possibilities of what one might be seeing.

These mesmerizing paintings, which range from intimate to monumental in scale, are a testament to the artist’s decisiveness in handling pastels and oils, while feeling meditative, even joyful. In various passages, her works can call to mind the expressive energy of the works of Zao Wou-Ki or the brilliantly colorful still lifes of Odilon Redon.

What the Gallery Says: “Myonghi’s art has followed me everywhere in my life,” said Arthur De Villepin, chairman and co-founder of Villepin. “My father has been collecting her works for 25 years and her work hung in my childhood home. When I became a student, I decided to bring a few of her paintings to my place in the U.K., and when I moved to Hong Kong, I took them along with me as well. In this way her art has always been there for me, following me around as a reminder to look at life in different ways. Myonghi and I have developed an even closer friendship since I settled in Hong Kong over ten years ago, and she would travel from South Korea to Hong Kong from time to time to visit. I am always amazed by her uniquely engaged and sentimental approach to making art, which reflects her strong and independent character as a person. For example, she spent over 40 years finishing her painting titled Le Temps des Camélias. She waited until the exact right moment for her to properly finish this painting where she felt she was completely at one with the environment around her. Her art reflects an intimate understanding and connection with the natural world that is both timeless and universal, and we are so pleased to share her work with audiences in Hong Kong and around the world.”

 

Myonghi Kang
Lacour A (2011)
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Myonghi Kang, Lacour A (2011). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang, Lacour A (2011). Courtesy of Villepin.

 

Myonghi Kang
Canna Fannée (2020)
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Myonghi Kang, Canna Fannée (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang, Canna Fannée (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang
La Pente 3
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Myonghi Kang, La Pente 3 (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang, La Pente 3 (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

 

Myonghi Kang
Nature Morte (2020)
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Myonghi Kang, Nature Morte (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang, Nature Morte (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

 

Myonghi Kang
Orangers Fleuris (2020)
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Myonghi Kang, Orangers fleuris (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.

Myonghi Kang, Orangers Fleuris (2020). Courtesy of Villepin.


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