Miyeon Yi: Sunday that only had an afternoon. With a text by Gabriel Almeida

12 May - 12 June 2022

It all started from a piece of memory I had from childhood, “I think it is time for me to die.” She said to me while exhaling smoke from her cigarette. I looked up to read her face and check if she really meant it. To a child, who has just begun her life about 8 years ago or so, that phrase was rather shocking. No matter how long I stared at her face it was hard to grasp the true meaning of the words that scattered from her lips. Few years later, her words came true and her body lying flat on our Ikea futon transformed into a ceramic urn. I saw her last breath leaving her mouth as her cigarette smoke left her lungs, and her head turned towards the wall of our living room insisting not to look at us. I saw my grandmother off to an apartment of pottery, and then we bowed to her two and a half times. I remember asking my mother many times, why did great-grandmother turn in to a ceramic urn? “Every one of us will eventually die.” She said, “But you still have tremendous time left ahead of you.” Until recently, I hid behind her temporary words of consolation. But when only I, darkness, and silence remain, questions that will never be answered crawls back in my mind. 


I use figures as an allegory of ennui. The figures in my work are often in their own living space filling in the void of life with meaningless tasks while turning away from the weight of drama, experiencing freedom as well as ennui. On the other hand, animals in my paintings have a similar structure and function to the exiting and entering of actors of the Nō Theatre crossing the hashigakari (suspension) bridge. They are suspended from the main act of the protagonist however they have communicated with them in the past or bring a possibility to affect the main act in the near future. My painting discusses overwhelming agony embedded deep down in ones who lives in current world, in relation to individual freedom. Freedom allows us to decide what to make of our life but also guilt. Are we living as one should be? Doubt never sleeps. The characters of my paintings are thus often in a state of distraction, innocence and guilt. The anxiety of emptiness in our lives, the urge to fill the silence with information, as well as the unconscious hope for transforming the world we live in. We do not know how to truly rest in peace. But yet in that same demonic force, the possibility for a righted life is posed as a task. This experience of how both death and life, change and transformation, reflects in objects and the way we interact with them has become more ubiquitous and poignant after the events of the past few years.