Kyung-Me on Depicting the Labyrinth of the Psyche
In his late 30s, Carl Jung embarked on a 16-year-long journey through his own psyche, documenting and analyzing his fantasies and visions in what would become his totemic The Red Book. Dense, poetic, and annotated with works of art, the journal-cum-novel is an attempt to unpack one’s own subconscious, identifying and analyzing recurring motifs and symbols. “The symbol becomes my lord and unfailing commander,” wrote Jung. “It will fortify its reign and change itself into a starry and riddling image, whose meaning turns completely inward, and whose pleasure radiates outward like blazing fire, a Buddha in the flames.”
At Bureau’s current exhibition “Sister,” Brooklyn-based artist Kyung-Me’s drawings are proof of a similar process. Meticulously detailed, each of the eight ink drawings depict surreal scenes that attempt to uncover a spiraling psychology. There is a maddening, inescapable symmetry to these works. Kyung-Me’s beautiful labyrinth of mirrors is a world that is both collapsing in on itself and opening wide like a maw, consuming its viewers.
Ahead of the exhibition’s closing week, The Amp’s Shannon Lee spoke to the artist about the show, Jung, dollhouses, and the endless process of trying to understand oneself.
KM: I’m glad you picked up on that. This was the first project where I felt much more intentional about it. A lot of my writing that I was doing was articulating how I want the image to feel a certain way and do a certain thing. I was trying to be very calculated. I wanted every object to be charged with bivalent energy, where they all feel very trapped but also liberated at the same time. The space is both very open and very closed. I wanted it to feel occupied but abandoned, rageful but repressed.
I also wanted these works to radiate out like a star. When you think about true stars, like icons, they’re all charged with these extremely opposing forces to the point where they are so many things at one time. All of that intensity generates a halo of energy that radiates out in every direction into a star. But it also works inward. As much as these stars radiate this bright white light, they also possess a deep, spiraling dark void. That’s a true star, in my opinion.
For a lot of these drawings, I was playing a set dresser. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, especially during the pandemic. It kind of felt like I was online shopping to decorate my house.