Yeesookyung, Moonlight Crowns
July 29 – September 26, 2021
2F Art Sonje Center
Yeesookyung, Moonlight Crowns
Moonlight Crowns is a new series by Yeesookyung, an artist who adopts crowns as a motif for her artwork. The series began in 2017, with five of the works shown for the first time at the Museo Madre and Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy. Adding 6 more works made after her solo exhibitions in 2019, the exhibition features a total of 11 works of sculpture. The works are structured in such a way that they expand upward from the crown shape at the very bottom. Upon a small, crown-shaped base, they have a bulging middle section reminiscent of an urn, and a thin, sharp upper section resembling a spire tip. The sculptures range in height from 100 to 225 centimeters, creating a landscape that calls to mind a crowd of 11 people standing in the exhibition space.
Drawing inspiration from a Silla gold crown and Baekje gilt bronze incense burner, uses the crown – a symbol of power – as a support rather than placing it atop a head, drawing out of it an artwork that is both object and body. As the viewer approaches the sculptures, their gaze is captured by the detail of the individual pieces: Yeesookyung has covered her sculptures densely in a mixture of craft materials such as iron, brass, glass, pearl, mother-of-pearl, various rough gemstones, and mirror shards. The various symbolic patterns and forms emerge: angels, praying hands, crosses, dragons, plants, cartoon characters, magic wands, and more. The shapes that are created as the materials come together are like mosaics of fragments, which also seem to melt as if dissolved in flames. The fragment-based composition bears associations with the ceramic sculptures that served as the principal material from the artist’s previous Translated Vase (2002~) series. Just as those shattered pieces clustered together to form new shapes and lives, the Moonlight Crowns create new “life forms” by bringing together fragmented materials and symbols diverging from their contexts in terms of existing beliefs. It is an approach that entails an intricate crafting process. A repeated day-to-day sequence of the process elicited an approach from the artist that bordered on the unconscious and reflective, as though her hands themselves were thinking and creating automatically. Combining contemplation with labor, it is a process that the artist herself has referred to as “automatic writing” – a state of hypnotic concentration, as if reciting a written prayer.
Yeesookyung produced her Moonlight Crowns around the year 2020, a time when a tiny crown-shaped virus was just beginning to rampage around the world. It is as though she was sweeping up the scraps of religion, mythology, and belief dangling from the edges of fragmented objects and melting them with the fire of her fingertips. The series appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future; the artist has expressed her “hope that the work reaches the realm of artistic sacred items.” Recalling the comfort that it gave her to concentrate so deeply on the making of her artwork, she anticipates that it might transcend situations of death, fear, and frustration to convey the sense that “our bodies are sacred temples, our spirits resplendent crowns.” As we look upon the Moonlight Crowns, the exhibition invites us to focus on a sacredness within each of us that is not reducible to any one religion. As we look into the mirror faces of the Moonlight Crowns, it is an opportunity for us to focus on the divine within ourselves.
About the artist
Yeesookyung’s solo exhibitions include: Whisper Only to You, Museo Madre and Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy (2019), Yeesookyung: Contemporary Korean Sculpture, Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, USA (2015), Saint Breeders, Atelier Hermès, Seoul, Korea (2015), When I Become You, Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, Korea (2015), When I Become You, Yeesookyung in Taipei, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan (2015), Jung Marie’s Jeongga, Yeesookyung’s Devotion, Arko Art Center, Seoul, Korea (2010), Yeesookyung im Schloß Oranienbaum, Museum Schloß Oranienbaum, Dessau, Germany (2009). Yeesookyung’s work has also been included in major international exhibitions such as Being Human: An exhibition of modern sculpture, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in UK (2019), Exhibition Paradoxa. Art from Middle Korea, Casa Cavazzini in Udine, Italy (2018), The 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva in Venice, Italy (2017), [ana] please keep your eyes closed for a moment, Maraya Art Center in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2015), My Blue China, Fondation d’entreprise Bernardaud Limoges in France (2015), among others. Yeesookyung’s works are in the permanent collections of National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in USA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston in USA, IFEMA ARCO Collection in Madrid, Echigo-Tsumari City Collection in Japan, British Museum in London, and Spencer Museum of Art at University of Kansas in USA, M+ Museum in Hong Kong, among others.