Miyeon Yi’s artist journey rooted from a piece of childhood memory. “I think it is time for me to die.” Her great-grandmother spoke, with an exhaling smoke from her cigarette. It could be confusing yet shocking to an 8-year-old girl, until witnessing the passing of her great-grandmother a few years later.
Miyeon recalled the body of her great-grandmother lying flat on a futon, which then transformed into a ceramic urn. The scene and the urn became a myth to the artist. When asking why did her great-grandmother turn into an urn, the artists was told by her mother that, “every one of us will eventually die, but you still have tremendous time left ahead of you.”
Conversations between the artists and her surroundings become the source of consolation and comfort. Yet the darkness and silence still prevail, lingering with questions and thoughts often without a clear answer. They are later transformed into figures as an allegory of ennui at Miyeon’s artwork. These figures often live in a void, occupied with meaningless tasks as a shield against any drama.
In Nō Theatre, a tradition from 14th century combining music, dance and drama, the hashigakari bridge represents the path linking the real and spiritual worlds. The recurring animals in her paintings have a similar structure and function to the theatre actors crossing the bridge. They are suspended from the main act of the protagonist, however, they have communicated with them in the past or bring a possibility to affect the main act in the near future.
Her painting discusses overwhelming agony embedded deep down in ones who lives in the current world, in relation to individual freedom. Freedom allows people to decide their pathway but also brings guilt as the same time. One’s doubt may sometimes interfere his or her choice. The characters of the paintings are thus often in a state of distraction, innocence and guilt. The anxiety of emptiness in our lives, the urge to fill the silence with information, as well as the unconscious hope for transforming the world we live in. But yet in that same demonic force, the possibility for a righted life is posed as a task. This experience of how both death and life, change and transformation, reflects in objects and the way we interact with them has become more ubiquitous and poignant after the events of the past few years.
Miyeon Yi graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2023.