Haegue Yang
Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap and Sonic Guard

Haegue Yang, Energy-Powered Soul Stick – Mesmerizing Mesh #74, 2021. Hanji on alu-dibond, framed, 92 x 62 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin. Photo: Studio Haegue Yang


Galerie Barbara Wien is honored to present a solo exhibition of new works by Haegue Yang. The artist’s sixth solo presentation at the gallery introduces the series Mesmerizing Mesh (since 2021) in Europe. For this occasion, Wiens Verlag publishes the booklet Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap

The exhibition title Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap and Sonic Guard underscores the two main elements of the show – paper works and Sonic Sculptures. Twenty-six collages from Mesmerizing Mesh form the exhibition’s focus; alongside of this, two Sonic Sculptures are presented. Additionally, three wall-mounted Appliance Sculptures and a suspended Lantern Sculpture are on view. 

Mesmerizing Mesh is a series of hanji (traditional Korean paper) collages. Hanji is made from the inner bark of the mulberry trees native to Korean mountainsides. The scarce yet distinctive use of paper in some regional shamanistic traditions in Korea inspired the artist to initiate this series. Across civilizations, individuals and collectives have used paper in various rituals to convey their wishes. These paper props are also used for purification or cleansing rites and often burned at the end. The diversity of these practices have informed the development of Mesmerizing Mesh. Among the myriad of compositions, some types appear repeatedly, such as “formation.” This composition displays an array of geometric and abstract patterns referencing sumun, an ornamented paper sheet, which is hung from the ceiling in ritual sites to battle against evil spirits. In another compositional sample, figurative motifs dominate, referencing nukjeon, which shamans blow a spirit into.

In the north room of the gallery, sixteen Mesmerizing Mesh are presented, featuring geometric and figurative compositions with monochromatic backgrounds of black, red, and blue. Partially shown on a specially custom-made wooden structure, the motif of gohei from Shinto rituals in Japan is evident in the composition of some pieces. The south room presents ten Mesmerizing Mesh, revealing the similar use of paper objects in Korean as well as Japanese rituals. Some of them depict an assortment of figurative motifs, while others make reference to paper props, such as nukjeon, Shinjang stick/ōnusa, geumjeul/shimenawa and Sungju flower. The comparative observation is also disclosed in the accompanying booklet Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap. Next to them, Mesmerizing Lantern – Four Guardians in Crimson Mesh (2022), a Lantern Sculpture made of hanji, is suspended from the ceiling. Four sides of the lantern are ornamented with motifs of four guardian deities symbolizing the cardinal directions – the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North – all made into red.

Haegue Yang, Mesmerizing Lantern – Four Guardians in Crimson Mesh, 2022. Powder-coated stainless steel frame, steel wire rope, LED bulb, cable, hanji, black brass-plated bells, red stainless steel and stainless steel bells, PVD-coated stainless steel bells, split rings, plastic raffia string, jute twine, 140 x 90 x 90 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin. Photo: Studio Haegue Yang


Haegue Yang, Mesmerizing Lantern – Four Guardians in Crimson Mesh, 2022.


Haegue Yang, Barbell-Powered Sunrising Soul Sheet Atop Another – Mesmerizing Mesh #79, 2021. Hanji, pinewood sticks on alu-dibond, framed, 62 x 62 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin. Photo: Studio Haegue Yang


Two large Sonic Sculptures, woven out of bells and metal rings, are on view in both exhibition spaces. Appearing like transparent woven fabrics, two Sonic Guards (2022) are spread directly on the floor, covering objects like a protective shield. Table settings from ceremonies in Korea are arranged under Sonic Guard over Ceremonial Formation – Blue. Under Sonic Guard over Domestic Formation – Crimson, various common, yet old-fashioned food containers found in ordinary households in Korea are positioned.

In the south room as well as in the foyer of the gallery, three wall-mounted Appliance Sculptures are displayed. Twelve Pyeongchang-gil Moisture (2022) and Seven Dircksenstraße Moisture (2022) both bear street names in their titles and are made from kitchen sinks, covered with venetian blinds, and lit from within. The editions make reference to the homes of Yang in two different cities, Seoul and Berlin, addressing the idea of “double life” as well as the subject of “domesticity.”

In the foyer, an info table with rare books provides further insight into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Filipino, Slavic, and Jewish paper cutting traditions. These resources also shed light on Yang’s reflection on how shamans and artists share a methodology of taking “mystic leaps” out of earthly materiality. The mystic leaps appear to reach language, aesthetics, communication, value, and all that lie outside the material. Just as shamanistic paper props bridge the dimensions of the living world and beyond, Yang activates hanji by layering, folding, carving, and attaching, to take the leap from material to the dematerialized. 

Wiens Verlag is pleased to announce the release of Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap on the occasion of this exhibition. Published in English, this booklet provides concise yet informative descriptions and illustrations of shamanistic rituals and paper cutting traditions, with a focus on Korea and Japan. The booklet outlines Yang’s subjective reading of these various traditions, which led to the development of the hanji collages. It contains a richly illustrated chapter on the focal references and a full index of the 95 pieces of Mesmerizing Mesh made since 2021.

In the garage, a supplementary exhibition space in the courtyard, Sonic Intermediates – Three Differential Equations (2020) is on view. This three-part sculptural ensemble premiered in Yang’s solo show Strange Attractors at Tate St Ives and was later shown at M HKA, Antwerp. A separate handout with further information on the work is available in the garage.

Haegue Yang, Juggling Cheerleading Soul Streamers – Mesmerizing Mesh #78, 2021. Hanji, leaves, reed sticks on alu-dibond, framed, 62 × 62 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin. Photo: Studio Haegue Yang


New publication: Haegue Yang: Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap
Booklet with two separately bound sections in jacket, 72 pages together, 133 color images, 21 x 14.8 cm
Wiens Verlag, Berlin 2022, 15 Eur

Thanks to: Magdalen Chua, Atsushi Fukunaga, Taro Furukata 
Special thanks to: Annette and Marc Kemmler, Jochen Kienbaum, S.M.A.K. Ghent

Studio Haegue Yang, Seoul: Hwiwon Chun, Heeyun Im, U-jung Jang, Insun Kim, Myoungjung Kim,
Junseok Lee, Sihyun Ryu, Solkyu Yang, Heejung Ye
Studio Haegue Yang, Berlin: Liene Harms, Chieko Idetsuki, Cheongjin Keem, Nicolas Pelzer,
Katharina Schwerendt, Lisa Tietze, Tsukasa Yamamoto

Haegue Yang (* 1971) currently lives and works in Berlin and Seoul. Her recent solo exhibitions were held at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2020–21); Tate St Ives, Cornwall (2020–21); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2020–21); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019–21); The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida (2019–20); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2018); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul (2015); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012–13); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz (2011); New Museum, New York (2010–11); and the Korean Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice (2009), among others.

Her large survey exhibition presenting a focused selection of works at SMK National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen is on view until July 31, 2022.