From mundane objects and materials such as Venetian blinds, theatrical and decorative lights, infrared heaters, scent emitters, and fans, Haegue Yang (Korea, b. 1971) creates complex and nuanced installations that are informed by poetry, politics, and human emotions. In her work, Yang seeks to communicate without language in a primordial and visual way. She often complements her vocabulary of visual abstraction with sensory experiences that include scent, sound, light, and tactility. Combining industrial fabrication and folk craftsmanship, Yang’s visual language extends across various media (from paper collage to staged theater pieces and performative sculptures) and materials (clothing racks, synthetic straw, bells, and graph paper) that are torn, lacquered, woven, lit, and hung.
The ever-evolving graphic series Trustworthies (ongoing since 2010), a large and rich category of Yang’s oeuvre, originated with the artist’s chance discovery of the amazing variety of the security patterns that are printed inside envelopes to keep their contents confidential. Inspired by the aesthetic and conceptual potential of these patterns, Yang began collaging them into geometric compositions: abstract landscapes of simple horizontal lines, at first, which over time have grown into increasingly complex compositions—waves, refractions, windmills, x-shaped or interwoven forms, and kaleidoscopes—incorporating a wide range of materials, like origami paper, sandpaper, holographic paper, and graph paper. They have even amplified on a large scale to become murals.
Yang lives and works Berlin and Seoul. In 2018 she was awarded the prestigious Wolfgang Hahn prize, which was accompanied by a survey solo exhibition at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (also 2018). She has an upcoming solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019). Other recent solo exhibitions include Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2018); Zentrum für zeitgenössiche Kunst, Berlin (2017); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2017); Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Greene Naftali, New York (2016); Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2015), Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Scotland (2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2013); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, (2011); New Museum, New York (2010); and Korean Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). She also participated in the 2008 Turin Triennale, 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2008), and the 2006 São Paulo Biennial. The Walker’s 2007 exhibition Brave New Worlds was Yang’s first US exhibition. Her work is in the collections of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives, United Kingdom; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; M+, Hong Kong; Museum Ludgwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.