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< Wrinkles in Time > Exhibition Essay by Derrick Chang
Mira Song’s new series of paintings draw on the subtle subtext of the neighbourhoods of Vancouver and Seoul, Korea. Her paintings of abstracted geometries share an interest in both the architectural: crisp planar lines, clean sharply defined edges and precise features, but also a close examination of the greatness of the natural: wrinkles in the everyday, overlooked and inconspicuous details.
This series of paintings draws inspiration from the enclave of Bukjeong village which flourishes at the core of modern day Seoul. Like many neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Seoul has undergone many facelifts over the decades that have paved over the cracks and character the city’s landscape. Bukjeong however, exists as one of the last vestiges of Seoul’s natural heritage yet to be encroach on by urban commercial development. While on the SAALGOO Artist Residency in Seoul in 2016, Song painted some of these quiet spaces that exist at the northern edge of the old city wall.
Surrounded by examples of technology and displays of contemporary and “middle” modernist architecture, Bukjeong could once be thought of as derelict and abandoned. However, in recent decades it has emboldened itself by showing us examples of under-appreciated spaces that are not in need of demolition or architectural revitalization. Crumbling walls of industrial spaces and degrading factories are re-imagined by the artistic community as places for communal gathering. Rather than tearing down, the motivation is to build upon the cracks and surfaces of existing structures, nurturing the potential to make social space lively. Bukjeong serves as a parable to Vancouver’s indomitable infrastructural growth, demonstrating that flaws, stains, cracks and the weathering of time can reveal the true character and beauty of a neighbourhood.
What may seem like mundane, muddy and muted tones in response to Song’s painterly eye come alive with the topographical wonder of urban geographies. Springing up through the cracks of the urban pavement is the unconventional beauty of things. Song’s paintings do not celebrate the idealistic beauty of modernist tendencies but stand instead for an ethos of feeling over aesthetic, the celebration of the qualities of the imperfect, the modest and humble character of neighbourhoods. Cracks of course are not weakness, what may appear as coarse and unrefined paints a picture of an environment which visually raw and unpretentious. _ Derrick Chang