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Ota Fine Arts Singapore
7 Lock Road
#02-13 Gillman Barracks
Singapore 108935   map * 
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Flame
by Ota Fine Arts Singapore
Location: Ota Fine Arts Singapore
Artist(s): YEE Sookyung
Date: 3 May - 15 Jun 2013

Ota Fine Arts presents the solo exhibition of Yeesookyung, the Korean artist's first in Singapore. She has been showing a rich variety of conceptual works, based on her country's cultural memories and a common sense of her people in the present time. "Flame" comprises a series of ceramic sculptures, scroll paintings and cinnabar drawings on Korean paper.

From ceramics villages throughout Korea, Yeesookyung collects and sieves through their discarded remains to piece together fragments of ceramic wastage, smashed leftovers from earthenware flawed in the eyes of master potters. Yet the glazed pure white and deep jade-green tints that these Celadon ceramics are still so well-known for acquire a new hue by the artist’s hand: she reassembles these Translated Vases by gilding them with fine 24 carat gold leaf.

Although touched with glints of golden antiquity, these newfound sculptural montages are freed from specific historical referents, genres or conventions. The bulbous vases become highly suggestive: they may be the ample, elegant curves of a woman’s body, or the contorted abstractions of pain. By allowing these newly configured ceramics to depart from the bounds of their native Korean ceramic cultures, Yeesookyung’s transformation of their form yields to a translation into the experimental and the contemporary.

With Translated Vases and other works, Yeesookyung remains near to the art historical heritage of her home peninsula, while she speaks to it with new perspective. Her Flame Variation scroll paintings are engendered from the Goguryeo tomb paintings found in North Korea, but their mythologies are redrawn into fantastical amalgams of Judeo-Christian and Eastern religious iconography. But just as much as they are a postmodern patchwork of icons, the striking symmetrical composition of Flame Variation otherwise lends the work the graver tones of a Medieval morality painting.

So despite this sometimes light-hearted play with multiple and contemporaneous allusions, an austere sense of spirituality is conserved at the very heart of Yeesookyung’s work. This is arguably most evident in her cinnabar Flame drawings, cinnabar ink itself being a medium used by soothsayers to draw charms against malevolent spirits. Remarkably, the artist’s process is bound to the ground—she has completed the Flame series on her knees. Yeesookyung has likened this way of drawing to bowing in penitence or prayer, and if indeed some spiritual energy is delicately transferred to the Korean paper beneath her, it may be evinced by the pulsations and wave lengths emanating from the bronzed flames.

Yeesookyung’s ardent devotion to her work is indeed unparalleled in Korea, and Ota Fine Arts is delighted to present her solo exhibition in Gillman Barracks, Singapore.

Image: © Yeesookyung, Ota Fine Arts

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