About The Work
As a Korean artist living and working between Seoul and New York City, Ran Hwang finds solace, peace, and calm in meditative principles. In her works, buttons and pins become more than mundane, mass-produced items; they are transformed into metaphors for human freedom. Recontextualized when affixed to Plexiglas panels, they take the form of iconic symbols such as temples, plum blossoms, and Buddhas. This transformation is reinforced by the very process of constructing her works. Creating hand-made paper buttons, weaving thread, hammering thousands of pins into place requires the utmost discipline and concentration, recalling the meditative discipline of Zen masters. The production of such works is, in effect, a ceremonial action, emptying the mind and evoking a combination of endurance and ephemerality.
Hwang’s work evokes a space for healing, meditation, contemplation, treatment, and care. Just as plum blossoms represent the transient beauty of life as it blooms and decays, Hwang's art, likewise caught between freedom and restriction, offers optimism, peace and calm—a place of respite in these unstable times.
Ran Hwang_Becoming Again, 2020 from Leila Heller Gallery on Vimeo.
Born in the Republic of Korea in 1960, Ran Hwang currently lives and works in both Seoul and New York City. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and attended the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Chung-Ang University in Seoul.
Hwang’s motifs of intricate blossoms and Buddha’s – which appear across a variety of media – stem from her fascination with Zen Buddhism. Buddhism is integral to Hwang’s creative process and labor-intensive execution. To construct much of her work, Hwang creates paper buttons by hand, hammering each one approximately twenty-five times until it is secure. Her process requires the utmost concentration and discipline, recalling the meditative state practiced by Zen masters.
Ran Hwang has exhibited at several international institutions including the Queens Museum of Art, New York; The Hudson Valley Center for the Arts, New York; the Chelsea Art Museum, New York; The Seoul Arts Center Museum; and The Jeju Museum of Art, Jeju Island. Hwang’s work is also a part of numerous private and public collections including The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Des Moines Center for the Arts, Iowa; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; and The Hammond Museum, North Salem, NY.
Since its establishment over three decades ago, Leila Heller Gallery has gained worldwide recognition as a pioneer in promoting creative dialogue and exchange between Western artists and Middle Eastern, Central and Southeast Asian artists. In addition to presenting a dynamic exhibition schedule, the gallery actively organizes shows with world-renowned curators, hosts educational panels and film screenings, and produces catalogues and books with scholarly essays. Leila Heller Gallery opened its location in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue at 14,000 sqft, the largest gallery in the UAE. Showcasing leading regional and international artists, the gallery is dedicated to supporting the evolving practice of established artists. The gallery has strong innovative curatorial and educational programs with emphasis on promoting a dialogue between Western and Middleeastern artists.