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Jang Koal: Ghost Town

16 May - 18 June


Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong Central space is delighted to present “Ghost Town”, a solo exhibition by South Korean artist Jang Koal, who is known and loved for her unique painting style and artistic world. In “Ghost Town”, ghosts are not the frightening or strange entities we often think of, but coexist with us, making our daily lives more vibrant and healing us. This exhibition wittily expresses the metaphor of companionship through the theme of ghosts. The artist seeks to bridge the gap between the viewer, the work, and the artist herself.

Through the figure of a woman with gracefully flowing long hair, Jang Koal shares fragments of her life. The women in Jang Koal’s works exist in the artist’s parallel world. Surreal, mysterious, and sometimes ambiguous expressions unfold in her parallel world, where free fantasy and imagination take place. These release the artist into a space where rules and conditions are different from reality, creating a fascinating tension with the lives of the women in her works.

In a world that unfolds on layers of Hanji, or traditional Korean paper, women enjoy their most relaxing and precious moments. A fluttering red heart shared with a pair of birds against a beautiful backdrop of yellow flowers heralding the arrival of spring; an artwork of oysters hanging on the wall behind a woman relaxing with her arms stretched out behind her back and her hands clasped behind her head; a cup of greenish tea filling the room with its own scent and color; a ghostly figure that appears to be either a representation of someone or a mischievous figure; and a sleeveless T-shirt with a cat print with its mouth closed looking neat and smart. Such fun and playful elements make the moments of Jang Koal’s artwork even more special. The contrast between the intricate patterns and the sharp monochromatic distinctions makes the viewer feel at once comfortable and unfamiliar, focusing the viewer’s attention on the composition. The black cats that often appear in the background of the works, the colors of nature that cannot be found in the real world, and other fascinating devices in the works invite the viewer to enter the work and narrow the distance between the viewer and her parallel world.

Hair is an integral part of her work. This is particularly evident in this exhibition, “Ghost Town”, which features a woman combing her hair with a wooden comb. Hair symbolizes many things, including wisdom, power, sacredness, gender, status, and personal identity, and it appears in many cultures and mythologies. In Jang Koal’s work, well-combed, shiny hair signifies an empowered woman and is used as an important element in her artwork. In the works Come Under My WingsOverthinker, and The Balance of Things, elegant hair is emphasized, inviting the viewer to come as close as possible to touch the hair.

American anthropologist Edward T. Hall defined human relationships by the distance between people. 1.22-3.66 meters is the social distance, a range that allows normal conversation. 0.46-1.22 meters, the distance within arm’s reach, is private and moderately intimate, and 0.46 meters or less, the space in your hair where you can feel your breath, is very intimate. With this exhibition, the artist continues her exploration of the space of thought and private space by measuring the distance between the work and the viewer and her parallel world.

The space where one can feel comfortable and the time and elements where one can feel peaceful are important themes in her work. Accordingly, the idea of private space is of great significance to Jang Koal. Perhaps through her exhibition “Ghost Town”, the artist is proposing a relaxed but intimate distance for viewers to share and enjoy together.


Jang Koal is a self-taught artist who has possessed a deep love for drawing from a young age. Growing up in the care of her grandparents, she was often brought along when visiting Buddhist temples. Here she became acquainted with the striking traditional art that covers the temples' exterior and interior, which sparked a fascination for their colourful depictions and enigmatic atmosphere.

These early impressions continue to reverberate in her present-day artistic practice; however, the now Seoul-based artist has pushed on to explore more contemporary themes and methods of working on hanji, a traditional Korean paper. Utilizing modern materials and techniques, she works with contrasting vivid, solid colour sections against intricate patterns and constructs elegant imagery in which female figures are immersed in an imaginary parallel world filled with cats, flowers, and nature. Sourcing positive memories from her personal life, Jang addresses seemingly mundane and peaceful scenes but simultaneously touches on subjects that she is only able to express without restrictions through painting. Mixing the surreal, often ambiguous, or mystical atmospheres with bright colours and harmonious lines and compositions, she is able to create a captivating tension in which her subjects seem to feel most comfortable.


16 May
18 June
Event Category:


Tang Contemporary Art
+852 2682 8289
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