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A day to shake off the last few weeks… a visit to Soon Yul Kang’s Spiritual Journey

Today was a day to unwind, to shake off the last few weeks of chaos and work….and be me. To spend time with myself and just be. Stop doing and just be. And so it was that I decided to visit the galleries, first the Tate Modern, then Tate Britain and then finally the British Museum to experience and learn more about ancient art. A day full of Rothko and Richter, Picasso and Braque, Nicholson and Moore but alas no ancient art as I arrived too late. Leaving the British Museum, a heaving mass of chaotic bodies with so many languages spoken amongst the throng that I could not guess at their number or origins, I made my way back to the tube with the plan of returning home to Cambridge on the next train.

So, you know how it is, you are walking along and something catches your eye. Something. Filled with disappointment about missing the British Museum’s Neolithic version of cubism I expected nothing more of my day from the world of art but I was wrong. Beckoned in by the occupants of the gallery I gingerly entered in, not quite know what to expect. Music. Gentleness. Stillness. Being. Not doing. Just being.

Soon Yul Kang: Spiritual Journey (2012). Collage, diameter 96cm

Soon Yul Kang’s exhibition, “Spiritual Journey”, is aptly named as it challenges the viewer to look within, whilst looking at the art. Simple, delicious, evocative. Memories come back that are pertinent to me but not to anyone else. Moments on a beach before the sunrise: little terns, children on the sand, cold water lapping over my feet and ankles. Times in Ireland on the hills amongst the gorse: lovely times, gentle times, times to be and to contemplate. Tumbling sea, full of pebbles and sand as it crashes on the shore.

Soon Yul uses textiles, collage and paint to express in an abstract way her deepest inner self and allows the viewer to take from that and impose on the work of art what they will. Beauty, stillness, landscape, nothingness. This is Rothko without the intensity of colour, Nicholson’s white relief with no 3D, cubism with no edges, Moore with only a hint of subject. This is not in your face Hockney or Rothko colour, not bigger picture or detailed art nouveau. No, this is simple beautiful abstract art, where the viewer is taken to a very personal inner place that only the viewer can ever know. Rothko meets Zen Garden.

Sadly the exhibition soon ends but Soon Yul continues her work at her studio near Kew Gardens. Originating from and trained in Korea but very clearly aware of and involved in the art scene in the UK, Soon Yul seems determined to continue to create contemplative works which will inspire and lead to reflection in those who have the opportunity and privilege of experiencing her beautiful reflective works of art.

Martin Cosgrove
16 February 2013

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