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Exhibition news: Meekyoung Shin in Heritage Reinvented at new Tryon St gallery

The former British Museum curator Anna Harnden is launching a new contemporary commercial gallery off the Kings Road in Chelsea. Opening on 3rd October 2013, Tryon St Gallery aims to bring together artists from different artistic and cultural backgrounds in order to create new dialogues concerning heritage and the contemporary. Meekyoung Shin adds the opening group show to her busy exhibition calendar.

Heritage Reinvented: Inaugural exhibition

3 October – 22 November 2013
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Tryon St Gallery | 7 – 9 Tryon Street | London SW3 3LG

Some of Meekyoung Shin's celadon-style soap vases
Some of Meekyoung Shin’s celadon-style soap vases on display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (photo: LKL, September 2013)

Brett Graham | Tom Hunter | Ali Kazim | Oscar Santillan | Meekyoung Shin

The idea of ‘cultural heritage’ has been frequently contested. Negative nationalistic undertones and cultural stereotyping often undermine the value of such a concept, yet it is an idea that still plays a prominent role in society today.

Heritage Reinvented brings together five artists from across the world who transform techniques, imagery or concepts typically associated with their own culture, to create works that present uncomfortable, unfamiliar or unexpected outcomes. Each of these artists have their own critical standpoint but are united by their desire to draw from their perceived cultural past to speak to the present.

Brett Graham is of Maori and European descent; his works address socio-political issues across the dichotomy of his dual heritage. Graham describes how his choice to envelop instruments of modern warfare with Maori designs, reflects the way Maori people appropriated British colonial power symbols and rituals, such as weapons, flags and salutes, believing them to be imbued with spiritual significance.The title of Te Hokioi refers to a bird that was believed to be a Maori ‘myth’ until the discovery of skeletons from the world’s largest, now extinct eagle. Graham parallels the eagle with the once fabled stealth fighter, covering it with patterns from his own tribe, who themselves were described as ‘the hokioi above, whose bed fellow is thunder, with its swift talons and cleft tail’. As with all of Graham’s work Te Hokioi considers the profound effects of European colonialism and the responses of indigenous peoples across Oceania.

Providing a visual stimulus for debate on important social issues Tom Hunter’s renowned photographic works transform the compositions, subjects, and symbolism of European and American masterpiece paintings. In Mole Man Hunter alludes to an implausible news story of a wealthy Irish immigrant who spent 40 years digging a 60-foot network of tunnels beneath his £1 million home in order to hoard his wealth. Drawing compositional and symbolic parallels from the 17th century Italian artist Luca Giordano’s Fall of the Rebel Angels Hunter creates a poignant dialogue between the past and the present, contesting our traditional views of binaries good / evil, wealth/ poverty and dark / light.

Ali Kazim trained as a miniature painter in Lahore, Pakistan, continuing an artistic tradition that flowered as the result of a nexus of Persian and South Asian influences from the 16th century onwards. Presenting a series of new self-portraits, Kazim transcends the traditional function of Mughal miniatures as declarations of official rank, wealth and status. He transforms the colourful, jewel like paintings into monochrome, internalising, meditative images.

Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan links his ‘mestizo’ heritage to his interest in exploring how cultures combine, react and mutate when they connect. In his new video work A Hymn, Santillan materially reinvents the physicality and ritual intensity of catholic veneration. In a disused church a dancer works herself into a frenzy to a cacophony of sound. When the dancer suddenly halts, a drummer marks each bead of her sweat as it falls. Here Santillan offers a transubstantiation of his own – exertion into sound. A Hymn opens a boarder dialogue, considering the role of exhaustion, penitence, control and imagery in Catholic cultures throughout history and across the world.

Korean sculptor Meekyoung Shin is known for her use of soap to create meticulous transformations of East Asian ceramic and sculptural masterpieces. Every time we use soap it is subtly eroded by our touch. Shin uses this as a metaphor for the erosion of the original cultural significance of historic objects as they are recontextualised in public and private collections across the world. For Heritage Reinvented she presents a new group of work focusing specifically on the Korean celadon tradition.

3 October – 22 November 2013

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