Exhibition Review: Soon Yul Kang – Spiritual Journey

Soon Yul Kang The Sky of Tranquility 2008

Soon Yul Kang : The Sky of Tranquility 2008

Last weekend we had a very arty Sunday as we headed over to Mokspace Gallery to check out Soon Yul Kang’s latest exhibition: Spiritual Journey. A unique exhibition featuring works of art woven into tapestries, we were very excited and intrigued to see how she utilises tapestries in her exhibition.

Soon Yul Kang Emptiness 2006

Soon Yul Kang : Emptiness 2006

When you are first greeted by the tapestry pieces, they look almost like fine art paintings, maybe even landscape photography when you take a step back. Emptiness was a favourite as it felt almost 3D, like you were there standing in the mist and that something could materialise in the distance at any moment. This piece was so simple yet it really pulls you in the more you look at it. You can see a lot of time and effort were put into creating these tapestries, the detailing is seriously impressive. The artist Soon Yul Kang told us that pieces can take anywhere from a month for the smaller ones to over 6 months for the larger pieces, and it can be extremely frustrating and strenuous as you ensure each stitch is done to perfection.

Soon Yul Kang has made the pieces in her Spiritual Journey exhibition open to the viewers’ own interpretations. She didn’t make these pieces with a special message to portray, there is no right or wrong answer. Her pieces are created for the viewer to enjoy and reflect upon, creating your own conclusions. We can see why this exhibition is called Spiritual Journey as all the pieces are so calming, you feel at peace and start to self-reflect. Each viewer has a different sort of personal journey as they go round the exhibition and admire the individual pieces. The different interpretations were definitely vast for these elegantly minimal tapestries, and we could have easily spent hours there discussing and comparing our thoughts and feelings on each  piece.

As you can imagine, each piece takes a lot of time and effort, from each colour and shade chosen, to working out where and how each new stitch should be placed, everything has to be very carefully and meticulously planned. To get the colours she needed for the pieces, Soon Yul Kang had to do a lot of thread mixing, especially to achieve the gradient effect she wanted for her pieces; gradual colour change affect. Unlike portraits, tapestry is a lot harder to work with as you are potentially working with blocks. Almost like a very tiny mosaic piece, it requires you to plan each strand and stitch carefully to make sure you achieve the overall effect you want. You can witness some of this intricate detailing in A Long Journey, where the grass of the hill looks so breathtakingly life like. Soon Yul Kang said each and every single stitch was meticulously planned. Imagine painting by numbers, except the area is minuscule and you actually need to sew the colour on with a thread, that you had to mix and make to achieve the exact colour you wanted; sounds exhausting! Soon Yul Kang said it was very, very hard and took about six months to make, but we have to say the end result is AWESOME!

The pieces are so natural and calming. The colours are amazingly earthy and neutral, like capturing the beautiful colours of a sunset. These pieces are so tranquil to look at and fascinating when you take a closer look to see how it was all woven together.

Soon Yul Kang’s tapestry skills are further evident in A Long Journey where you can see a circle in the centre of the portrait. We’ve noticed that Soon Yul Kang uses circles a lot in her pieces and the use of this eternal smooth shape really enhances the tranquil atmosphere in her pieces. In A Long Journey, the circle is created by a special tapestry technique. The circle looks faintly etched into the piece, even upon closer inspection we can’t figure out how she’s managed to weave in this circle effect! But the results are so subtle yet effective, from afar it almost looks like a sun spot you get in photography.

Because these are tapestries, it’s really hard to capture the full effect of these pieces, but why look at photos when you can go and see the real deal? We definitely recommend a visit down to Mokspace, it’s just really impressive to see these amazing tapestries in person. In the downstairs gallery you can also see some of Soon Yul Kang’s other works, such as portraits and revisit some old favourites from the O Bang Saek Exhibition.

Mokspace Gallery London

Spiritual Journey will be on at Mokspace until:

18th February!

So you still have time :) It’s open every day and is just by the British Museum in Central London. For more information on the exhibition click HERE

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