7th January- 6th February
Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10am-6pm, closed Monday and national holidays
Chinese painter Song Yige is a hot topic around these Asian parts of late, and it’s no wonder. Her paintings typically deal with themes of childhood and the transition to adulthood with associated feelings of loneliness through simple and direct depictions of daily objects in desolate spaces. Most paintings are figure-less, but recall human presence in the absence of it. She paints in a realistic manner, and is a master of combining all of these elements with an astute sense of colour, to create honest and enrapturing works which seem to whisper softly to the viewer and beg them to pile their own personal meanings and memories onto the spaces that Yige has primed for them. These wonderful, large, low hung paintings in Gallery Hyundai are awaiting your meanings and memories.
Song Yige alludes to childhood by means of over sized objects which recall how big everything seems when you are young. A mourning for the loss of childhood is dealt with most overtly in ‘Helplessness 1,’ (2009), where a lone man wearing deer horns dejectedly gazes upon a crashed remote control helicopter. He is proportionately smaller than the helicopter and the maze of open doors to the left of the composition, and it’s uncertain whether he is outside or in. The ground is uneven and carries on as such through the open doors, emphasising the lonely, uncertain feelings which this painting provokes.
Whilst ‘Helplessness 1,’ deals with nostalgia for childhood, ‘Untitled,’ (2009) deals with the thrilling, yet terrifying transition into adulthood. The painting depicts a blue moonlit scene of a single track between wheat fields, leading to the vortex of the painting. The journey alluded to in the seemingly endless monotonous landscape, invites feelings of exhilaration in the sheer vastness and openness of the composition, but also of fear of embracing this freedom. The simple lines of the tracks leading to the centre of the painting and the horizon offered by the wheat are ever so slightly asymmetrical, playing with the viewer’s equilibrium and adding a further disconcerting edge to the work.
The open spaces of ‘Helplessness 1,’ and ‘Untitled,’ resonate with loneliness and desolation, feelings drawn upon in all works but extracted by varying means. In ‘You and Me,’ (2010), it’s a pair of worn pink chairs, evoking thoughts of the figures now absent. In ‘Bathroom,’ (2009), it’s working shower heads, pouring water onto nothing but the dirty tiles, which beg for human presence and seem to whisper the delicate splashing of water upon the floor. In ‘Abyss,’ (2008), it’s a terrible, black, gaping hole down which a ladder ladder much too short for the purpose, half heartedly and untrustingly reaches.
The paintings are swathed in varying melancholy green blue tints and executed with tender brushstrokes which relay objects in a realsitic manner. However, the strokes seem to tremble and threaten to break free of their confines in places, evident in strokes extending slightly further than they should and intruding into the space represented. Thick applications of paint become more than representational as physical embodiments of the heavy atmospheres provoked.
Perhaps I have made this all out to sound very grim, but it’s not. There is terrible loneliness and uncertainty, but overall, they are melancholy rather than desperate. The loaded spaces beg the viewer’s interpretation, making each painting personal according to your own experiences. They are humble, open, and obviously come from deep within Yige’s heart. They’re waiting for you too.