South Korean—born Song-Nyeo Lyoo reflects her decadent paradisal subject matter in the richness of materials that she uses. An intricate, multistage process brings together ink, watercolour and gold powder on rice paper, silk and wooden board. Through this, she creates scenes of an imagined Buddhist heaven, where frivolity reigns and multiple hands grasp at the landscape’s bounty. This element of natural excess also informs the depiction of her figures, each joined to the other in a flowing network of gold lines. Heads are replaced by buttocks, the human form fuses with the animal, and body hair is exaggerated. The Garden of Arcadia is clearly informed by Buddhist devotional painting and teaching, emphasising the interconnectedness of the natural world. Yet, at times bordering on the chaotic, it also becomes a commentary on contemporary extravagance.
Lyoo was the winner of London’s first Art Gemini prize in 2013, an international competition hosted by Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery with more than 744 entries, which aimed to promote creativity and excellence in visual arts from a variety of cultures. She has exhibited internationally and currently resides in Frankfurt.