It's easy to get lost in Eemyun Kang (강임윤)'s lush and flowing paintings. The bold and sometimes glowing painterly structures erupt throughout the canvas, growing and unfolding with each stroke. Kang creates succulent canvases, lost somewhere between abstraction and figurative form. Underneath her dominant strokes, which are marked by energetic pace and vigour, are narratives and mythology—stories about imagined realities.
Kang herself comes from a complex and varied background. She was born in Korea where she studied Fine Art in Painting and Sculpture at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul in 2002. She then immigrated to the United Kingdom where she received her Honours in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She received her Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2009, and in 2012 she gained a Doctor of Fine Art from the School of Arts and Digital Industries in London. Today, Kang lives and works in London and Milan.
This cultural hybridity possibly feeds into Kang's work, which is varied in palette and form. At first, and particularly up close, her large and heady oil canvases appear non-figurative. Instead of depicting something specific or following a narrative, they appear to present layer upon layer of nonsensical painterly lines, weaving in and around the canvas. However, viewed from a distance, recognisable shapes may start to emerge. In Voice (2013), for example, a face can be seen, as well as shapes that resemble plants and animals. It is as if imagined universes are depicted, with the viewer bringing their own response to the work to form the relevant figures.
For Kang, myth is something that sits in the imagination. Legend and folklore operate on this level, too. These stories therefore exist in imaginary time, in a place where there is no start and finish and nothing remains static. Kang's work functions in a similar way, where mystic backgrounds of ambiguous colour fields permeate behind anthropomorphised forms. As a whole, they exist somewhere between conscious and unconscious.