Still LIfe with Pinata Black Masking Tape Installation. By Heeseop Yoon, courtesy of The Korea Society

“The more I see, the less I believe in the accuracy or reality of the images I draw.”
– Heeseop Yoon

Drawing has always been considered something by which one can surely capture specific moments in time – a universal language that speaks to everyone and, in doing so, brings about a personal understanding of things. At Korea Society in New York City, the current show Heeseop Yoon / Agglomeration, relays this concept further – all performed in an intricate perspective of line, space and representation. And by presenting ordinary environments beyond the norm of representation, the artist Heeseop Yoon presents her work uniquely beyond the scale of ordinary intellectual expression.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Yoon grew up in a family which was competitive, which taught her the importance of persistence and individuality. She developed an interest in art during her childhood and studied art at Chung-Ang University and, in a need for further personal exploration, she left Korea to attend and receive an MFA at City College in New York City.

As an artist with distinct resourcefulness, Yoon took the experience being in the United States as a way toward a different environment and people and incorporating these experiences into her artistic concepts.

Spacious, bold and vibrantly active, the work of Heeseop Yoon references the over-consumption of technology and the physical hoarding that it develops. Upon entering the event space, Still Life with Wire, 2019, is a work, made up of etching and pen drawing, that spreads out as a collage on a black paper background – a myriad of whimsical lines overlapping each other with images of stars, tape reels and the like – a frantic mess of activity that somewhat takes on a life of its own.

The basis of Yoon’s work is created initially by taking photographs of real spaces and from that, beginning a continuous drawing process without erasing (known as “mark making”) – all done with the utmost of care and precision, thus creating a body of expression that leads toward “the experience of line and space, rather than making the drawings just about representation of objects”.

Still Life with Chandeliers. By Heeseop Yoon, courtesy of The Korea Society

In the work Still Life with Chandeliers – Seoul, Philadelphia, New York, 2021 (see image), three panels become a continuous conglomerate of one image, that of a room in someone’s home. Consisting of an array of framed family photographs, lamps, air conditioners, clocks and hat mannequins, the viewer can see the fine details quite closely, yet from afar the work becomes an infusion of abstract art and graphic design.

Throughout the gallery space, linear images abound within each work, becoming an integral mirror to the artist, which she believes is based on the idea of memory and perception. The site-specific installation Stiff Life with Piñata, 2022, (see image) becomes like a growing organism, all done with black masking tape on mylar, forcing the curious viewer to see the finite images of a Virgin Mary statue, salami, wheels and mounds of wires – a complexity of movement being enlightened by the stark lines and shapes, all alongside the vast space it occupies.

Still Life with Eiffel Tower. By Heeseop Yoon, courtesy of The Korea Society

Still Life with Eiffel Tower, 2022 and Yardsale, 2022 (see image), presents the viewer with a fascinating and mindboggling presentation of sorts. The commonest of items are shown in these two pieces: radio players, dumbbells, assorted beads, liquid blenders, handbags and sandals – all working together in close proximity. Strong, linear shapes are done most spontaneously, yet giving an impression of tightness, agitation and gloom amongst the area it manipulates – a sense that with darkness comes more darkness.

Given the excellent opportunity that Korea Society has afforded Heesop Yoon and her unique work, the art of drawing will continue to be an important part in the global presence of Asian and Asian American contemporary art.

The exhibition will be on display till August 25th. The Korea Society is located on 350 Madison Avenue in New York City. To view the artist talking about her career and work, see www.koreasociety.org/arts-culture/item/1596-artist-talk-heeseop-yoon

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