We are pleased to present The Figures By the Sea, a solo exhibition by the Korean artist Hyunjeong Lim.
Hyunjeong’s works draw on two distinct influences. On the one side, there are the paintings and drawings from the European Renaissance, ranging from Bruegel to Da Vinci to Bosch, which provide her with a formal template for exploring imagination as a landscape. Her highly intricate drawings thus combine a wealth of classical imagery with an animated cast of characters, and only by noticing some key anchors in her compositions – a pair of headphones, or a telephone – does their everyday contemporary nature become apparent.
This use of a formal template also serves as the platform for Hyunjeong’s other focus: intuitive drawing, and the creation of works that articulate not just the artist’s everyday surroundings, but also her inner life and experiences. The most poignant example of this is the large blue work The Figures by the Sea, a drawing executed in response to the sinking of the MV Sewol in April 2014, a national disaster in Korea in which 295 souls were lost – most of them secondary school children. Such was the impact of the event that it has left a scar on the national conscience of Korea, and consequently for the artist herself. The drawing is littered with cranes and lifting equipment lining the seafront, but too land bound to make any difference. All figures have their backs to the viewer just as they appeared on the news – anonymous, looking to the water in hope and desperation. As a drawing, it marks the intersection when national identity and the individual meet, and where tragedy becomes not just part of a country’s narrative, but something deeply felt and experienced.