Yung Hyon-Keun at Hastings Contemporary

A beautiful show of this Korean artist’s work. Yung Hyon-Keun (1928 – 2007) was one of the leading artists in the Dansaekhwa movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s which explored the idea of monochrome painting.

The works in this show are from later in his career when he was working with diluted layers of pigment, letting them seep into the fibres of linen and accumulate as he worked repetitively on the surface over a period of days, weeks and even months. His technique and the sensibility of his compositions reference traditional ink-wash painting. His choice of colour – burnt umber and ultramarine blue reflect ideas of heaven and earth. As he says:

” The thesis of my painting is the gate of heaven and earth. Blue is the colour of heaven, while umber is the colour of earth. Thus, I call them ‘heaven and earth’, with the gate serving as the composition

I loved the scale of his pieces, the meditative calm, the warmth of the soaked linens, the dark tones, earthy seeping layers. My eyes adjusting, refocusing, becoming sensitised to the subtle graduations of tone and form. The irregular edges, the softness, yet poised. The calming effect.

Installation at Hastings Contemporary.
Umber-Blue, 1974
Close-up of I think a Burnt Umber and Ultramarine piece from the 1990s.