Sangyoon Yoon

Easy to Please

Sangyoon Yoon

Originally, Sangyoon Yoon painted with his right hand. His early paintings are realistic and sophisticated, showcasing his outstanding skills for delivering complex and symbolic narratives. For example, Switch-Off 2 (2011) shows a man speaking through a megaphone, surrounded by people soaking in water, as if taking a bath. Based on the title of the work, however, the man’s voice does not seem to be getting through. For Yoon, painting served as the ideal medium for creating scenes of such absurdity, often in colors with low saturation.

But in 2016, Sangyoon Yoon decided to restrict himself by trying to paint with his left hand. Lacking fine control of his left arm and hand, he struggled with detailed and realistic descriptions. Also, the long hours of work became more arduous with his left hand, so that his touches eventually became simpler and faster. Perhaps most challenging of all, the movement and strokes of the brush seemed to be executed by a completely different person. But his new technique offered at least one major advantage; no longer able to rely on existing painting conventions, he worked with more abbreviated expressions, enabling him to hone in on the core values of painting, such as materiality and spontaneity. Since then, Yoon has alternately painted with both hands, developing two distinct aesthetic worlds, as if there were two artists living inside him.

As his left-handed painting became more concise, the brushstrokes were emphasized on canvasses dominated by vivid colors that radiated beauty through their diverse palette, brightness, and saturation. Unlike his right-handed works, characterized by surreal themes with an almost architectural composition, Yoon’s left-handed paintings tend to depict people in scenes that resemble spontaneous, candid photographs. With their short, covert titles, these works resemble concise or compressed pictorial records of actual events, distorted by the derangement, delusion, and ambiguity of memories that flash through the mind.

The exhibition title Easy to Please might be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Yoon’s sensuous and intuitive left-handed paintings often have more immediate appeal than his right-handed paintings, which require much more time and effort. Or it might express feelings of envy and anxiety towards the mysterious, free-spirited people in the left-handed paintings, who seem like characters in a novel. But the fundamental allure of Sangyoon Yoon’s left-handed paintings comes not from these characters, but from what they reveal about the artist’s own body, memories, desires, and identity.

Artistic Director Jinsang Yoo

The left-handed paintings are imbued with a soft, uncanny feeling that revives the taste of experience, which may lurk in their neutral or atypical expressions: faces without clear features, blurred boundaries between people and space, and extremely bold primary colors that may have come from the uninhibited brain of a reptile. That is, while the right-handed paintings are saturated with the fundamental pain that crushes humanity, to the point that they almost trigger the pineal gland, the left-handed paintings radiate with emotions that counteract that pain. Through this ambidextrous world, Sangyoon Yoon seems to shake the vertical hierarchy of right-handed painting with a horizontal order. Or perhaps the left-handed paintings are seeking to overthrow the right-handed paintings by enlarging their claim on existence, like a monster in the ego.

from review by Namsu Kim (art critic)

Sangyoon Yoon
b.1978
Solo Exhibitions
2020 Time Dive, Hoban Artrium Art Salon, Seoul
Supernatural Power News, ARTERTAIN, Seoul
Mean Old World, Artspace Hue, Paju
Only Superstition, Atelier Aki, Seoul
2019 Green Haze, Gallery Sejul, Seoul
2018 Sine Cera, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
2017 These Foolish Things, Christine Park Gallery, New York
2016 Only 16, Lotte Gallery, Seoul
Bring It on Home to Me, Artspace Hue, Paju
2015 Elysion, Yoonarte, Shanghai
2014 Mobius, Pyo Gallery, Seoul
2013 Right & Left, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
2012 Sensibility of the Water, Pyo Gallery, Seoul
2009 The Body Marks on Territory, Television12, Seoul
Selected Group Exhibitions
2020 Inconvenient Hand, Artspace Hue, Paju
Selective Fellowship, Gallery Nomad, Yeosu
Super Collection, Superior Gallery, Seoul
Paju Act. 2, Artspace Hue, Paju
Ensemble at Hannam, Gallery Joeun, Seoul
The Age of Forty, To Be Infatuated, Gallery Joeun, Seoul
2019 A Sharp Veil, Artnoid178, Seoul
The Image Goes against One’s Will, Kkumteul Gallery, Pohang
The Forest, Gallery Joeun, Seoul
Hoban Namdo Cultural Foundation Competition, Gallery IS, Seoul
Chongkundang Yesuljisang: The Era of the Painting, Sejong Museum of Art, Seoul
2018 The Age of Forty, To Be Deceived, Gallery Joeun, Seoul
Cutting Edge Painting Olympiad, Potato Ware House, Pyeongchang
2017 Selective Fellowship, Artproject Ren, Seoul
The World Captured in the Painting, Oulim Art Gallery, Goyang
Sourceful Drawing, Raw Gallery, Paju
Space and Place, Atelier Aki, Seoul
2016 Imagery Landscape, Gallery Kyung, Daegu
Once a Scenery,Gallery Beone, Pangyo
Ming Tai Culture, National Agriculture Exhibition Center, Beijing
Ensemble at Hannam, Gallery Joeun, Seoul
There is the Romanticism, Art Factory, Seoul
True Painting,Artspace Gong, Seoul
2015 China-South Korea Art Exhibition, Zhangjiagang Museum, Zhangjiagang
Motivation, ARTERTAIN Seoul
Goodbye Subong Dabang, Subong Dabang, Incheon
2014 Affinity90, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
Korea Tomorrow, DDP, Seoul
Art Nova, SZ Art Center, Beijing
Occupy Jungmiso, Jungmiso, Seoul
Face of Desire, Space K, Gwangju
2013 Round Up, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
Korea Contemporary Painting 33, Gangdong Arts Center, Seoul
Paju Acceess, Artspace Hue, Paju
Parallel World, Zaha Museum, Seoul
NAS, Namu Contemporary, Seoul
Being, Bjn Gallery, Seoul
2012 You Were, You Are, Gallery Chosun, Seoul
YM, WCA, Gallery Imazoo, Seoul
The Painting, Actual Creativity and Healing, Palais De Seoul, Seoul
2011 Re/Representation, Television12, Seoul
Gather of Painting, Dr. Park Gallery, Yangpyeong
Between Techne and Metaphor, Artspace Hue, Paju
Pity on Utopia, Artspace Loo, Seoul
All of My Hopes, Pyo Gallery, Seoul
Group Show, GYM Project, Seoul
2010 Seokyo Nanjang, KT&G Sangsangmadang, Seoul
Byul Collection Now, Sinsa Art Tower, Seoul
Into the Wild, Interalia Gallery, Seoul
Far Out East, 10 Vyner Street Gallery, London
Supporting Emerging Art, Murmur Art Gallery, London
Sasapari 4482, Barge House Oxo Tower, London
The Open West Competition, Summerfield, Cheltenham
Ways to See, I-Myu Projects, London
The Gift, 10 Vyner Street Gallery, London
Awards
2019 Grand Prize, Hoban Namdo Cultural Foundation Competition, Namdo Cultural Foundation
2012 Chongkundang Yesuljisang, Korea Mecenat Association, Artspace Hue, Chongkundang Holdings Co.
Residencies
2011–19 Hue+Network Art Studio, Paju
2010–11 SeMA Nanji Residency, Seoul