Hyun-Sook Song’s works result from the understanding of painting as an act of concentrated meditation that records the artist’s state of mind.
Sprüth Magers is pleased to showcase a solo presentation of Hyun-Sook Song at Frieze Masters in its new section Studio, curated by Sheena Wagstaff. Song’s decades-long practice is characterized by a distinctive style and technique that blends the ancient medium of egg tempera on canvas with deliberate lines and forms that draw on East Asian calligraphy.
Throughout her oeuvre, the South Korean-born artist features only a few motifs in her mostly large-scale canvases. The majority show a wooden post or branch on a nondescript ground. In some paintings, what appears to be pieces of cloth are tightly bound around the plain object; in others, such as 11 Brushstrokes (2022), the pole is veiled by a diaphanous layer of paint, suggesting exquisitely thin curtains. In the upper-right corner, the wooden pole’s end, which is rendered in a naturalistic manner, peers out from behind the strips of textile, making the most opaque white column of paint its background.
For Song, her studio provides a deep sense of home, a space that answers the question “Wo zu Haus” (Where at Home), the title of her 2021 biography written by Jochen Hiltmann. Displayed in a vitrine alongside archival materials are objects that hark back to the artist’s childhood in a South Korean village and preserve the memories and (familial) traditions of a distant place in the past – a notion Song grapples with in her practice.
Song’s presentation permits an intimate experience of the quiet quality of her works, all of which are rich in layered meanings despite their simple subject matter. The product, perhaps, of fading memories of a place and time that no longer exist, they conjure an array of images and associations but ultimately remain elusive. Committed to her medium and material, Song creates works that lay bare the constitutive elements of painting: support, surface, color and process.
Learn more about the works presented at the fair here.