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b. 1979, South Korea

Hyon Gyon Biography

Hyon Gyon's private emotions are conducted into her paintings like electricity gone rogue—her canvases are frequently riotous, colourful as though exploding with sparks, and often marked with literal burns that she makes with a blowtorch. The expressiveness in her work is significant, erupting in works that are simultaneously sinister, ecstatic, whimsical and unbridled.

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Hyon Gyon earned her bachelor's degree in Western painting from Mokwon University in South Korea. Later moving to Japan, where she stayed for nine years before moving to New York, Hyon completed her master's degree and PhD in painting at Kyoto City University of Arts. Her work has been exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Kyoto, Japan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

Incorporating multifarious materials such as traditional Korean fabrics, foam, spray paint, found objects, gold leaf, encaustic and hair, Hyon's work is known for its references to Korean shamanism, a set of indigenous practices in which intercessors mediate between gods and human beings. Hyon has been interested in shamanism since a formative encounter following a family member's death; she was drawn to its cathartic properties that allowed her to release previously bottled thoughts. Inspired by such purging of feelings, Hyon began an artistic practice that often contains visual hints to the mystical. In parts of her canvases, paint is emphatically pushed around and left to dry in large, fleshy clumps; in others, it is carefully rendered into images of spirits, monsters, pop culture icons and human hair. In her words, the making of her large-scale and often chaotic paintings is a way to express her 'anger and negative emotions and just let them go'.

Aside from erratically applied paint, two unconventional materials stand out in Hyon's oeuvre. One is the holes burnt through collaged traditional Korean fabrics layered atop foam board—a practice that originated when Hyon developed a habit of scorching fabric with a lighter as a child. To Hyon, traditional Korean clothes represent important life events and are thus records of monumental emotions—birth, happiness, sadness and death. The second material is gold. Though she'd used sprinklings of gold in her previous works made in Japan, Hyon's 2016 series 'Harlem Gold' was the first to use great quantities of fine-pressed leaf of the precious metal. The series was created during a three-month residency in Harlem, during which Hyon was struck with the systemic racism that affects Black bodies in America. Her erratic doodles on canvas were covered with sheets of gold leaf, rendering them nearly unreadable unless viewed at certain angles.

For Hyon, art is primarily about stirring emotions; she tries to transform the energy of her viewers with her paintings, knocking them out of complicity in order to acknowledge the fierce feelings that lie just beneath the surface.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2017

Hyon Gyon In Ocula Magazine

Hyon Gyon: 500 words Ocula Insight Hyon Gyon: 500 words By Elliat Albrecht

For all its significance in the world, lovemaking lasts, on average, just eleven minutes. Or so wrote Paulo Coelho in his 2003 book Eleven Minutes, which followed a young Brazilian prostitute's sexual awakening and search for the meaning of love. On view in Hyon Gyon's solo exhibition Cruel World at Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong (21...

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Hyon Gyon In Related Press

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HYON GYON Related Press HYON GYON 1 March 2019, Art Asia Pacific

Occasionally, an artist who works on the very edge of experience comes along. They will paint, sculpt or create in such a way that burns holes in the fabric of propriety that veils most of everyday life, and permit us a fleeting glimpse of raw emotional substance. As many of the works in her exhibition at London's Parasol Unit Foundation for...

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Cruel World Hyon Gyon Related Press Cruel World Hyon Gyon 15 November 2017, Art Asia Pacific

In September, Korean-born, New York-based artist Hyon Gyon was in Hong Kong for her first solo show in the city. The exhibition Cruel World was mounted at Ben Brown Fine Arts, where the artist presented mixed-media works, sculptures and an installation that embody ideas of shamanism enmeshed within. Ten of her creations were shown in the...

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An Interview with Hyon Gyon and Her Cruel World Related Press An Interview with Hyon Gyon and Her Cruel World 8 November 2017, the Artling

As her recent explosive solo exhibition wraps up at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Hong Kong, we had the chance to speak to artist Hyon Gyon (b. 1979) about the motivations behind her enigmatic, often large-scale mixed media art practice. Hyon Gyon was born and raised in South Korea, and receieved her M.A. and PhD from Kyoto City University of Arts in...

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A Cruel World: Korean artist Hyon Gyon – in conversation Related Press A Cruel World: Korean artist Hyon Gyon – in conversation 28 October 2017, Art Radar

Hyon Gyon Cruel World features the artist's work from 2014 to 2017. She creates paintings, sculptures and installations with a wide array of materials, including melted fabric, foam board, gold leaf, encaustic, spray paint, hair and found objects. Hyon Gyon (b.1979) is a New York-based South Korean artist. She was trained in western painting....

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