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Artist Heo Yeon-hui likens charcoal drawings to our life

Artist Heo Yeon-hui likens charcoal drawings to our life

Posted October. 17, 2022 07:35,   

Updated October. 17, 2022 07:35


“The passing of time gradually erases off charcoal, a black carbon residue from burnt wood, without our knowing. In this regard, it is just like how finite our life is. That is why the present moment matters most.”

Artist Heo Yeon-hui has spent 30 years drawing charcoal sketches. She is famous for her work style where she draws on the wall using a piece of charcoal tied up with a long wooden stick and later erases the drawings. Then, why does she keep producing works that may soon disappear?

Heo Yeon-hui’s exhibition “Staub and Hütte,” available until this Friday at A.P.23, a gallery in Mapo-gu, Seoul, may demonstrate what she pursues as an artist. Based on her archive, this exposition provides a window into her artistic value system by displaying a total of 27 pieces, including paintings and drawings.

A charcoal painting and an on-wall video project are displayed at the entry, both of which best represent the artist. Led by this video footage combining five performances, you arrive in front of works with somewhat different vibes. “Gwan Jip,” referring to a coffin house, is an image showing a small unit she built up with pebbles and logs for two months in a rural village in southwestern France. This cabin is as narrow as a coffin for one person,” Heo said, “I was inspired by the thought that life is split up by every single day in it,” adding that we humans go into the coffin to face the moment of death at night and get a new life the next morning.

She is also one of the leading ecologist authors. “I only love nature,” she said smiling. Her early works give us a hint of her pursuit of ecological values. Look at “Yeun-hui’s Diary” (1996), the oldest piece on display. She drew images on each page of a copy of “NOA NOA” (1901) that she bought at a secondhand bookstore to console her own loneliness studying in Germany in 1995. She wrote, “The bleeding red sun is moving and burning with youth and energy in its arms. However, it already knows that it does not last forever because it gives way to the moon.” She explained, “Nature teaches us how birth, death, and circulation work. As we humans are part of nature, living with it is a truly human lifestyle.”