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Hanmi Gallery: Getting there, slowly but surely

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Jennifer Kidds 2013, Everywhere and No One Raw, single-channel video

As it prepares for a formal launch next year, London’s up-and-coming Hani Gallery isn’t waiting for the painful processes of planning permissions, renovations and plastering to get in its way.

The gallery’s ever optimistic and energetic director Heashin Kwak mounted a new show, the 25th so far, to present new work under an apt title, Breathing Space. Although Heashin Kwak has shown several Korean artists in past interim shows, her focus is wider than the world of art from the Korean peninsula and its diasporic or transient communities elsewhere.

Curated by Irish artist Jennifer Kidds, who offers her own deeply contemplative and unsettling video in the group exposition, Breathing Space presents an eclectic mix in various media, including works inspired by the gallery itself as work-in-progress.

“The aim of this exhibition is to provide artists with this breathing space, a vacant place where they can spend some time or a place which can just serve as inspiration for a new project,” says Heashin Kwak. “In a building that is silent with little distractions and no demands, this building allows the artists the freedom to do something fresh. From a variety of media such as installation, video, print, sculpture and drawing, the artists reflect on moments that made them stop.

“With an infinite influx of opportunities around us we manage somehow to become stuck, we freeze, but moments of respite such as this allows us out of that corner and into a clearing where everything is possible and nothing is out of reach. Our minds are clear and we feel unburdened and, free from ourselves and our own expectations, we think of nothing and sometimes nothing is enough!”

The artists taking part in the group show, Ines Tavares, Jennifer Kidd, Yingmei Duan, Matthew Bennington and Vasilis Asimakopoulos, have responded to the gallery’s tentative spaces in different ways, some more intervening than others.

“The works in this exhibition give as sense of stillness and become part of the visceral state of the space while allowing the visitor a view to a realm only possible in the Hanmi Gallery’s current state,” adds Heashin Kwak, a statement which may relate more to works by artists who are using neither sound nor moving image — particularly Ines Tavares, who has made resin and rubber casts of the ravaged walls — wounded where, for instance, brickwork fireplaces are absent, almost like reminders of lost limbs, organs or tissue. It’s easy to see why each surface appears to strike up a conversation with the viewer facing it, almost challenging the viewer/visitor to do something about, on or around it.

Heashin Kwak expects the gallery’s inaugural exhibition to take place in autumn 2014. She’ll probably miss the unfinished surfaces, she says, when the walls are plastered, painted over and readied for the gallery’s ultimate purpose — commerce in the twilight world of creativity pitted against practical realities. SR

Breathing Space. 17 October-9 November 2013. Hanmi Gallery, Maple Street, London W1T 6HA. T +44(0)208 286 4426. Buy a link on this page.

Author: Editor

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