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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Ocula Insight

Hyon Gyon: 500 words

Elliat Albrecht 6 November 2017

Hyon Gyon, Eleven Minutes (2014). Exhibition view: Hyon Gyon, Cruel World, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong (21 September–9 November 2017). Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

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 September–9 November 2017), the South Korean artist's painting of the same title is inspired by the book's suggestive quantification. Over two metres tall, Eleven Minutes (2014) is a near-monochrome record of bodily movement—clumps of ivory encaustic are embedded with tufts of white faux fur and chalky cloth taken from Hyon's bed. Painting on the ground in her former New York studio, Hyon moved the wet materials with her hands, piling masses of paint in areas and scraping it off in others. When satisfied with the results, she tipped the canvas up and poured boiling white wax from one end, letting the liquid drip over the painting and eventually harden. The work, in its paleness, calls comparisons to Robert Ryman's paintings of a similar palette, while the connotations of the bed as both setting for erotic happenings and as artistic material harks back to Tracey Emin's seminal My Bed (1998).

Exhibition view: Hyon Gyon, Cruel World, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong (21 September–9 November 2017). Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

Part of a series of eleven similar paintings, Eleven Minutes's lack of colour stands in contrast to the other works in Cruel World. The exhibition also includes large-scale paintings from Hyon's 'Harlem Gold' series, in which acrylic paint doodles inspired by New York are pasted over with gold leaf; erratic and abstract 'still life' paintings made by applying vibrant paint to burnt foam and Korean fabrics; and small, non-bake clay sculptures enveloped in oil paint. The most modest yet some of the more compelling works in the show, the small sculptures are drawn with tiny, frightening faces and emerged from Hyon's desire to take a break from painting and do just about anything else.

Exhibition view: Hyon Gyon, Cruel World, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong (21 September–9 November 2017). Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

This frustration with painting is familiar to anyone who dabbles in it, let alone has engaged so deeply as Gyon has. Born in 1979, Hyon studied Western painting in Korea before earning a master's degree and a PhD in painting at Kyoto City University of Arts. It was in Japan that she began her works based on shamanism, grief, cultural identity and mysterious human emotions. Growing up, Hyon felt burdened by the widespread repression of women in Korea, and has since used art as a cathartic process to release her feelings. Such purging of emotion is evident in the raw energy of her works, including those in Cruel World, which often bear evidence of their profoundly physical making. Inspired by Coelho's book in making Eleven Minutes, Hyon attempted to complete the painting within those brief few moments. However, given the complexity and the weight of the materials, she was unable to finish it in time. Still, a beautiful connotation remains in the work: painting as an act of love.–[O]

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