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Sang Woon Nam: Blue, at Aleph Contemporary

Date: Tuesday 4 July - Wednesday 6 September 2023
Aleph Contemporary | The Bindery | 53 Hatton Garden | London EC1N 8HN | | [Map]

Tickets: Free | Official notice on gallery website here
Open Monday – Friday 10am - 5pm (otherwise by appointment)
Curated by Rok Hee Hwang and Vivienne Roberts
Sang Woon Nam: Blue Moon 20234 (2023) Oil on canvas, 53 x 53 cm
Sang Woon Nam: Blue Moon 20234 (2023)
Oil on canvas, 53 x 53 cm. Courtesy of the gallery and artist

As a satellite exhibition of Korean Art London 2023 – which opens for three weeks in July at Mall Galleries, London SW1 – Blue offers the opportunity to take a deeper dive into Sang Woon Nam ’s ultramarine lotus leaf paintings.

Known for his signature colour, which he has dubbed ‘Blue Moon’, it took Nam fifteen years to develop this intense hue. He was looking for a shade that would express profound mystery and invite the eye to dive into the canvas.

Nam displays a similar dedication to the mastery of technique, as well as to an exceptional level of detail most easily seen in the delicate network of veins that crisscross the lotus leaves’ surfaces. Underlining his deep commitment to technical artistry, and to the importance of the artist’s hand, Nam equates this fine tracery to the veins that appear on his hands after many hours painting. A work can take up to three years to complete.

Lotus leaves have long been symbols of purity, creation, and enlightenment. Painting, for Nam, is a devotional act, his patiently acquired skills and his insights etched into the leaves on the canvas. Sometimes the artist adds satirical elements, such as a car the size of a bug, to comment on man’s worldly desires.

Nam’s work goes beyond mere representation, despite the photorealist style, to touch on more complex themes about the human experience. These serene paintings offer a profound visual experience that induces a state of tranquillity. The paradox being that they can also stir a fundamental sense of unease: the beauty and harmony of the lotus leaf – of life – is fleeting.

Sang Woon Nam, b. 1970

The artist has exhibited widely in South Korea since 1997. In 2022 he had his first show in the UK at J/M Gallery in 2022. He gained a PhD in Fine Arts from Hongik University and an MFA in Painting from Kyonggi University. Awards include the Special Prize at the 14th Danwon Art Festival and the 41st Figurative Exhibition of Gusanggeon.

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