In her latest exhibition titled “Effluves d’un Temps Éphémère”, the South Korean artist takes visitors on a journey that blurs the line between reality and imagination.
There is an air of uncertainty and otherworldliness about Min Jung Yeon’s current show. As soon as you walk inside the Suquet des Artistes in Cannes, you find yourself drawn in by how effortlessly she crosses boundaries and mixes reality with the universe of fantasy, inspiring visitors to look past stereotypes and get absorbed in her fascinating paintscapes.
Nothing is static in Min Jung-Yeon’s delicate works, whether it’s a light mist that spreads, only to dissipate immediately, or an imposing shape that surrounds, suffocates and engulfs an object. Nothing is completely real, just as nothing is completely imaginary.
Her abstract landscapes create a threshold where the known and unknown converge. Her artistic creations lend themselves to many interpretations, requiring observers to pause, embrace stillness, and immerse themselves in her captivating pieces to truly comprehend the essence of her work. Within these compositions there are stones, foliage and mists, blurring even further the gap between life and death.
Born in 1979 in Gwangju, South Korea, Min Jung-Yeon today lives and works in France. She honed her interest in the sciences, particularly space exploration, from a young age. Her father, a fossil collector, took her along on his excavation trips, she explains. Inspired by him, she observed the nature of plants and trees, and how they change with each season. These experiences nourished the artist’s imagination.
— David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes
Today, the artist is considered one of the most innovative creators in contemporary art. Her work allows her to reflect on intimate issues, on the concept of identity, but also on her spiritual and symbolic heritage, with references to Korean shamanic rituals, for example. Drawings, paintings, volumes, installations – Min Jung-Yeon is at home in all dimensions, from the infinitely small to the monumental, from drawings and paintings to sculptures and installations. The name of the exhibition Effluves d’un Temps Éphémère is inspired by an ancient Buddhist measure of time called “The Incense Clock” which was used in the 6th century in Asia.
Delicate Details and Cultural Significance
Used liberally in Min Jung Yeon’s work, white feathers have a deeper meaning in South Korean shamanic culture, invoking the funeral ceremonies and shamanic rituals she witnessed as a child. Covering the costumes of shamans who guide the souls of the dead to the afterlife, they represent the transition between life and death. “The color white here is symbolic because it’s not really a color,” says Maria Lund, the artist’s Parisian gallerist.
Another installation made of white paper feathers is waiting to be discovered in the Suquet des Artistes’ old elevator space. The feathers are piled up to look like a bird trying to take to the skies but being attached to the ground, it cannot fly. It is a reflection on the liberty we have, but also on its limit.
Contrasting and Unexpected Artistry
To create a strong contrast in her paintings, Min Jung Yeon uses acrylic in a watercolor-like way. Her deep fascination with space, black holes, time, and energies is obvious in her works, which sometimes portray moonscapes cloaked in darkness, leaving the observer unsure of the exact location.
Artistic unpredictability is Min’s hallmark. “For a long time, I’ve always put together elements that are very contrasting, very contradictory, very small, very large, and everything very hard and very fluid,” she explains. In a rare display of spontaneity, she completed her work “In the Cave” right within the exhibition space, giving the collection an unusual touch. She is also constantly experimenting with different mediums: In this exhibition she premiers a video accompanied by music. “I want to step outside the boundaries by going further. That’s why I made the video – to expand my field and create something even more monumental,” Min explains. Her goal is to convey a thought-provoking message that challenges our current existence.
The artist’s rich exhibition history spans several years. Her work has been displayed in prestigious venues and galleries, showcasing her talent and artistic evolution. The Suquet des Artistes which hosts her exhibition has its own intriguing history. Death is not a stranger here: this used to be the morgue of the old hospital of Cannes. After having been abandoned as such the 1950s, it lay dormant until the City renovated the space seven years ago and reopened it as a cultural venue.
Min Jung Yeon’s exhibition Effluves d’un Temps Éphémère (“Fragance of Bygone Times”) runs through September 3. All throughout the summer there are guided tours as well as special events to meet the artist and the curator.
— Hanna Baudet, exhibition curator
7 Rue Saint-Dizier, 06400 Cannes
Admission: Standard: €4, reduced: €2, under 18: free. Concessions.
Daily: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
With contributions by Natja Igney
Lead image © Damla Pesek; all other photos as credited