dépendance is pleased to present Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap and Sonic Germination, Haegue Yang’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery since the first one in 2004. This exhibition brings together two categories of work by Yang: paper works and sculptures. While Yang is recognized largely as a sculptor, she employs a wide range of media, and her lesser known commitment to flat works, from collages to wallpaper, has been consistent from the beginning of her career. Mesmerizing Mesh – Paper Leap and Sonic Germination comprises a diverse selection of her oeuvre and offers substantial insight into her research interests, methods, and visual language.

Germination describes the transformation of a seed into a seedling, implying the emergence of new things. Yang’s artistic approach attempts a transformation of materials to transcend boundaries, enabling fresh perspectives on our traditions and identities to emerge. For instance, in her use of paper both in Mesmerizing Mesh and Mesmerizing Pagoda Lantern, paper signifies more than mere physical means for a craftsperson to create a thing. In fact, paper is civilizational materiality, which contains not only technical sophistication and serves as a symbol of knowledge, but is also infused with spirituality. Combining rich materiality, conceptual complexity, and an abundance of visual references, Yang is renowned for her labor-intensive, yet unrestricted craft-based methods drawn from various folk traditions, melding industrially manufactured and domestic items with organic and synthetic materials.

Mesmerizing Mesh, Yang’s most recent work cycle, is a series of collages made from hanji, traditional Korean mulberry paper (the same type of paper is known as washi in Japan). Started in 2021, the series builds its central idea on the sacred dimension of the tradition of paper folding and cutting found across many cultures. Emanating from the paper props in Korean shamanistic rituals, some of Yang’s collages reference sumun, a sheet with geometric patterns that often looks like the piece of mesh hung from the ceiling in ritualistic sites to keep evil spirits away. Others represent figurative and almost anthropomorphic motifs, alluding to nukjeon (soul sheets), in which a spirit, believed to be the exact same entity as the deceased being honored, is summoned by a shaman. Her compositions, however, seem to be a hybrid of motifs from different cultures. Unlike the original ritualistic paper props, Yang introduces a rich range of colors by using hand-dyed hanji in Mesmerizing Mesh. The symmetrical, multilayered, and intricate motifs vary from seasonal, vegetal, floral, and animal motifs and ornamentation; diverse agricultural deities; meteorological symbols; robotic figures; historical warriors; and mystic creatures to geometric patterns. A recently developed composition type, called Soul Glyph, adapts from the Korean tradition of letter painting. This folk art revolves around Chinese characters that are richly embellished with pictorial symbols and highlights the fluid border between concept and form. One such composition on view centers on the character Shim 裶, meaning ‘mind’ and ‘heart,’ which is represented as a deep and wide forest and ocean collaged with nature motifs, such as coral and tree branches.

Suspended from the ceiling, Mesmerizing Pagoda Lantern – Cabbage- Butterfly Aquatic Ultramundane Flowers (2023) is a lantern sculpture made of painted birch wood and is adorned with numerous hanji flowers. The structural body is composed of panels, carved by CNC milling, a common technique in architectural maquette-making, in juxtaposition with the delicate nature of the hand-cut fantastical flowers, which depict ornamented architectural vehicles, departing to the topology of divine otherworldly realms according to Buddhist or shamanistic traditions.

A table with a display of books, including several rare ones, reveals Yang‘s sources of inspiration and provides further insight into various paper cutting traditions, such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, Slavic, Mexican, Filipino, and Indian cultures.

The Mesmerizing Mesh collages are combined with a range of Sonic Sculptures (since 2013), which incorporate bells. Informed by diverse ritualistic uses of bells, Yang’s Sonic Sculptures are rooted both in shamanistic as well as in European pagan customs. Yang explores the lasting qualities of those folk practices that have endured for generations despite frequent neglect.

Based on these ceremonial associations of metallic bells, Sonic Droplets in Gradation – Germinating (2024), draping down and dividing the space as a curtain between two spaces, allows visitors to walk through it and activate the bells with their movements. The artwork triggers a haptic experience as one will be stroked by the bell chains, an act which resembles many purification rituals where the body or objects are brushed by ritualistic tools or incense. Sonic Droplets in Gradation also elevates our sight upward, drawn by the sculpture’s vertical axes.

As a part of an ambitious reconstruction of Yang’s monumental ensemble of 33 sculptures, titled Warrior Believer Lover (2011), the Sonic Totem Robots (2023) are, in essence, an embodiment of anthropomorphism. Yang’s interest in the notion of abstraction refrains from abandoning the descriptive quality, yet does not end with narration. These robotic creatures are three variations of a cube, embodying three different orientations—forward, sideways, and askew. Their polygonal design underscores Yang’s ongoing fascination with geometry and abstraction, while the incorporation of lights and fans unfolds their narration about operation and energy.

The wall-mounted Sonic Sculptures accompany the suspended and free-standing versions. While Sonic Rotating Binovular Geometric Twins – Quadricolor #34 (2022) has a stronger geometric and abstract composition, Sonic Rotating Binovular Geometric Twins – The Sorrow and Fury of Dokkaebi #39 (2023) references Korean mythological entities. Dokkaebi are mythical creatures that possess extraordinary powers to interact with humans, at times playing tricks on them or helping them. When set in motion by hand, the bells generate a sound that gradually fades as the rotation slows while the bells slide around in the irrespective modules within the mesh.

Rotating Reflective Running Blade-Handle Faucets Identical Twins – Striped Circles #22 is a wall-mounted sculpture vested with conventional faucets and water hoses that can be rotated by hand. When spinning, the mirror image as well as the shape of the faucets and water hoses begin to blur. Rotation and movement have been a recurring aspect in Yang’s work for the last decade. For Yang, the rotation suggests an ‘unlearning’ of the original form and material as a spinning sculpture—in whatever shape it is—is transformed into a circular form, a moment close to a ‘perfect geometry.’

The Source of Spring is in the Trace of a Movement (2021) is a silk screen print work produced by and for the South London Gallery and pays tribute to the institution’s historical motto, “The Source of Art is in the Life of a People,” coined by Walter Crane (1845–1915) who designed the South London Gallery’s original marquetry panel. Currently hidden beneath the new wooden floor and physically invisible yet reverberating powerfully until today, the motto on the marquetry conveys an ever-resonating dedication of art toward social values such as equality and social reform. Yang’s print echoes, yet also mutates the motto in Burmese to relate to Myanmar’s 2021 mass protests known as the Spring Revolution, highlighting the need for empathy and respect for the oppressed. In place of Crane’s Victorian nature notifs, Southeast Asian healing plants are featured, set against multiple three-finger salutes symbolizing resistance while also evoking the memory of the colony.


Haegue Yang (1971, South Korea) currently lives and works in Berlin and Seoul. She has had solo exhibitions at HAM, Helsinki; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; S.M.A.K., Ghent; Pinacoteca de São Paulo; SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen; Tate St Ives; MoMA, New York; The Bass, Miami Beach; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul; Kunsthaus Bregenz; and the South Korea Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale among others. This September, an exhibition dedicated to two decades of Yang’s two-dimen­sional explorations will open at the Arts Club of Chicago, followed by a major survey exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London in October. Yang won the Wolfgang Hahn Prize at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne in 2018 and the 13th Benesse Prize at the Singapore Biennale in 2022.