Gyun Hur’s new work contemplates personal, emotional landscapes

Hudgens Prize winner earns her $50,000

Arts Visualarts3 1 39
Photo credit: Courtesy Hudgens Center for the Arts
Installation view of In a Landscape Anew: Gyun Hur

Gyun Hur’s bright parallel bands of finely chopped cemetery flowers have lost their shape. Arresting in both their delicateness and rigidity, the bold stripes inspired by Hur’s mother’s Korean wedding blanket functioned as a meditation on memory, loss, and family.

For In a Landscape Anew: Gyun Hur, the solo exhibition to come out of Hur’s $50,000 Hudgens Prize award, the artist has further deconstructed the blanket into a vast contemplation of personal and emotional landscapes. The color palette has evolved, and she’s allowed the edges of her painstakingly placed shreddings to become ragged and unfinished in areas. Colors bleed into one another, the beginnings and ends of things harder to discern in the current installation. With In a Landscape Anew, Hur has cleared a plot for the cultivation of a new part of herself.

“You cannot get away from what you are going through as an artist or as an individual, and the artwork becomes a transparent reflection of who you are and what you’re going through,” Hur says. “There was no pressure for me to break away from the stripes, but it very naturally happened with a very specific season of my life, and I wanted to share. I got to visit Korea this past spring, and the notion of the past and narratives that I never fully got to know — the country was a lot more accessible than I thought, and that gave me sort of a closure of the past.”

Hur has broken up the main gallery with a small dividing wall, separating the space into one smaller and one larger area. The smaller front space has a darker, more brooding feel thanks to the floor installation’s angular geometry and earthy color scheme. Red-orange washes over dark indigo in front of a knee-high mirror. A small boulder rests atop the blue in view of the mirror. In front, a pop of lime green sprinkles has yet to take shape.

On the other side of the wall, the lime green spreads out into a vast field of hue-shifting color bordered on two sides by a mirrored platform. The other two edges have been left unfinished in the sense that the clippings provide only a rough estimation of where the border lies. Bushy green AstroTurf covers the platform, and a skewed projection of an old family photograph hovers on the wall above. It is a raw unfinished landscape where a new self is taking shape: from the turf where roots have been put down to the uncertainty of the fuzzed-out edges.

The exhibit also includes two short films by local production company Proper Medium documenting Hur’s process, and two series of studies from her past striped installations. Hur has painted her trademark bands of color on figurines and tear sheets from old magazines. The Technicolor rainbow glides over the windows of houses, through rivers, valleys, and skies, and enshrouds the heads of little boys and girls to offer a nostalgic look at the accumulation of experiences.

The exhibit is rife with fragments: the chopped flowers, mirrors only revealing parts of the space or infinitely reflecting into each other, the blocks of paint that extend the work’s reach up onto the walls. In a Landscape Anew: Gyun Hur presents a comingling of, but never the complete merging of, past and present. Contemplating the vastness of emotion and self is nothing new, but experiencing it through the lens of Hur’s artwork certainly makes it feel as though it were.