Various Small Fires is pleased to present Mark Yang’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and the artist’s first presentation in Texas. In Spectral Echoes, the Seoul-born, New York-based artist expands on previous works while embracing a fresh approach to his exploration of the human form.
Yang creates bold compositions that depict contorted bodies twisted into tangled masses. Rather than producing a narrative for his figures, Yang favors a formal investigation of the body’s sculptural forms. He focuses on light, mass, and color to build a vocabulary of abstraction.
The artist further deconstructs the figure in this body of work. Yang’s signature extremities are absent, replaced by angled joints and the occasional buttocks. It is often challenging to discern a leg from an arm as Yang leaves out the signifiers of hands and feet. The work on paper Spider Web (2023) highlights this perfectly and exemplifies Yang’s inclination for more complex compositions. Offering limited points of reference for viewers to devise a storyline, he challenges viewers to embrace ambiguity and derive meaning without relying on traditional representational elements.
Art history continues to play a significant role in Yang’s practice. Tiepolo’s sky-borne figures inspire the interpretation of light in Crisscross (2023). A vivid spectrum of Earth colors create colorful shadows that are vastly different from the high-contrast chiaroscuro found in the painting’s counterpart, Crisscross (night) (2023). Rubens’ monumental 1620 painting ‘The Fall of the Damned’ informs the exhibition’s largest canvas, Attic (2023). Yang paints a dense mass of limbs that envelops nearly all of the picture plane, leaving little negative space. The drama of the religious painting’s toppling bodies is distilled into a graphic cadence of light and shadow.
Together with new works on paper, the paintings in Spectral Echoes showcase Yang’s ever evolving approach to utilizing figuration in a unique consideration of abstraction. Paring down the body to essential components, the artist establishes a foundation that is rich with endless potential.
Mark Yang (b. 1994, Seoul, South Korea, lives and works in Tivoli, New York) received a B.F.A from Art Center College of Design and an M.F.A. from Columbia University, New York. Yang has held solo exhibitions at MassimodeCarlo Pièce Unique, Paris; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles and Seoul; Half Gallery, New York; and Steve Turner, Los Angeles. The artist has been in group exhibitions at Kasmin, New York; Perrotin, Paris; Spurs Gallery, Beijing and Saga, Seoul, among others. His work is included in the public collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; the Mint Museum, Charlotte; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami and the Rubell Museum, Miami. In 2024, Yang will present solo exhibitions at MassimodeCarlo in Beijing.