We are strangers, even to ourselves.
That seems to be the message of “hong-souvenirs”Souvenirs,” the New York debut of Brooklyn-based artist Eunnam Hong now on view at Lubov NYC, which leaves a lingering aftertaste of unease with viewers, as familiar surroundings feel subtly changed, filled with hidden desires and latent potentials.
Hong herself is the model for each of the subjects—or “characters” as she calls them—in the 10 acrylic-on-linen works on view in the exhibition. Sometimes she stands in the scene alone or is twinned, and in one case she appears as a set of five characters each sporting a handkerchief.
While the artist is recognizable in these paintings, the works are not self-portraits in any traditional sense. Instead, Hong appears in exaggerated, almost awkward poses, donning costumes that feel plucked from the films of avant-garde director Wong Kar-wai or the glossy pages of fashion magazines. Opulent wigs with platinum or brunette curls sit atop her head in almost every painting, taking on the appearance of characters in their own right, an octopus of hair, almost.
Hong paints in a studio in her Park Slope home and a familiar eye will recognize certain architectural attributes of the neighborhood’s brownstones—prewar moldings, high ceilings, outlet covers thick from layers of paint. Looking from painting to painting, one can begin to get a sense of a space, filled with midcentury furniture, that feels real, concrete, and personal, if not completely cohesive.
The femme figures positioned throughout the canvases however feel decidedly more illusory, figments of the imagination.
Eunnam Hong, Myth (2023).
Over the past two years, these peculiar and provocative images have enticed interest from art world insiders and collectors. But ascendence in the art world hasn’t come easily for Hong.
Born in Gangwon-do, South Korea, Hong dreamed of