Hyun-Sook Song (*1952, Damyang, Jeollanam-do, Korea) lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. Since the 1980s, Song has created a body of work with several repeating motifs: clay pots, wooden poles, silk ribbons and woven textiles take centerstage atop tranquil monochromatic grounds. The presence of light and movement through and around the objects gives Song’s canvases a powerful, nostalgic invocation; each painting references the ephemeral nature of objects housed in the artist’s memory, as well as the ever-changing perception of memory more broadly.
Song traveled to West Germany in 1972 as a guest worker with plans to return after a few years of paid labor as a nurse. She kept diary entries and wrote letters home during this time, developing a visual-symbolic language in the process: calligraphic signs expanded to express her experience of western modernity as well as her deeply felt social isolation. Song’s art-making provided a means to fashion a home space that was now primarily in her memory, since the small rice-farming village where she was born also experienced the transformations of modernity in her absence.