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Hong Kong-based Villepin shows Kang Myong-hi's works in Seongsu-dong

By Park Yuna

Published : Nov. 19, 2023 - 15:27

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An installation view of An installation view of "Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" at KIR Seoul (Courtesy of Villepin)

Hong Kong-based gallery Villepin dusted off paintings by Korean artist Kang Myong-hi spanning from her early works from the 1970s to more recent ones for an exhibition in Seoul.

Founded by former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his son Arthur, the gallery opened in 2019 in Hong Kong. During his time as a diplomat, Dominique regularly met with artists from across the globe and Arthur grew up surrounded by them.

The father and son's relationship with Kang dates back three decades, they said.

An installation view of An installation view of "Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" at KIR Seoul (Courtesy of Villepin)

The exhibition “Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" is a three-week show in Seongsu-dong, a hip neighborhood where all manner of pop-up exhibitions take place.

At KIR Seoul, the rough concrete walls have been adorned with some 50 oil paintings by the 76-year-old painter, who has led the life of a nomad, traveling to Paris, Mongolia, Chile and Peru. At the moment, she is working on Jeju Island.

“We wanted to show how important art is and the beauty of the most random and destroyed place. The exhibition is called ‘The Colors of Time.’ This wall is also the color of time. This is the evolution of time that we wanted to show. We can see how beauty can emerge here,” said Arthur de Villepin during the press tour on Oct. 30.

An installation view of An installation view of "Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" at KIR Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Kang, who graduated from Seoul National University in art, left for France in 1972, becoming one of the pioneering artists in the western country to have a solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1986. The artist, however, is relatively unknown in her homeland, which is why the gallery decided to introduce works that span across her artistic career.

“(Korea's journey) has been a long history of drama. Because of this background of challenges, K-culture has become a culture of perfection and sophistication. But our world is not the world of perfection. It is a world of violence as well as of civilization. And that is why this exhibition shows the two faces of our world,” Villepin said.

“It is a very important moment to Myong-hi because in her heart, she never left Korea. She is back here with everything she learned during her life,” he added.

An installation view of An installation view of "Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" at KIR Seoul (Courtesy of Villepin)

The exhibition includes the artist’s oil painting portraits from her early years and recent abstract poetic paintings, including those she completed on Jeju Island.

“I wanted to meet Korean people but I wanted to meet them through my work. I have never expressed gratitude to Dominique de Villepin and his son Arthur who have supported me as an artist, so I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for encouraging me to continue my artistic career,” the artist said.

From left: Dominique de Villepin, Arthur de Villepin and artist Kang Myong-hi attend the press opening of the exhibition From left: Dominique de Villepin, Arthur de Villepin and artist Kang Myong-hi attend the press opening of the exhibition "Myonghi Kang: The Colors of Time" on Oct.30 at KIR Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)