Yurim Gough: VainEgo – A New Solo Exhibition at APT Gallery

Yurim Gough ‘VainEgo 14: Fame’ / Copyright Yurim Gough

Fine art ceramicist Yurim Gough will have a solo exhibition, supported by Arts Council England, at APT Gallery in London from 12-29 May, 2022. The exhibition titled ‘VainEgo’ will feature a series of wall-mounted ceramic pieces, drawings, film and photographic prints. 108 VainEgo ‘Army of Me’ ceramic heads will be exhibited at APT, as well as self-portrait drawings, photographs, sketchbooks and film. ‘VainEgo’ curated by Lee Sharrock.

Gough made 108 ceramic heads for the ‘VainEgo’ installation because of the significance of the number in
Buddhism. According to Bhante Gunaratana, the number 108 is reached by multiplying the senses smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and consciousness by whether they are painful, pleasant or neutral, and again by whether the feelings are internally generated or externally occurring, and yet again by past, present and future.

All the featured works were made during a 6-year period which was triggered by Yurim Gough’s breast cancer diagnosis in May 2016, and her subsequent treatment and recovery. During this challenging time, Gough sought solace in her work, expressing the emotions and experiences of her cancer treatment through life drawing and ceramics. Gough has since made a full recovery and chose to exhibit the art she made during her diagnosis and treatment in the month of May 6 years after her first diagnosis.

Yurim Gough says: “The VainEgo project moves on from imagined stories to real stories, with myself as the subject. In 2016, during my breast cancer treatment, I drew daily self-portraits. During lockdown 2020 I made half-sculptures of all these drawings. The VainEgo project was a 100% cathartic process. Focusing on creativity was a great tool to release emotions, weakness and pain, especially after I found that I had breast cancer and the subsequent treatment and recovery. I also got a strong spiritual feeling from the creative process and that I was able to survive from the cancer journey. VainEgo consists of one word and depicts myself in the mirror looking for my ego. As the fight against cancer began I drew my feelings, which changed from day to day, and I also drew my changing body nude onto a ceramic bowl. In addition, photographs and videos of myself at that time will also be presented for the first time in this exhibition.”

Yurim Gough ‘VainEgo 14: Fame’ / Copyright Yurim Gough
Yurim Gough ‘VainEgo 14: Fame’ / Copyright Yurim Gough

Gough is a talented fine art ceramicist who merges the draughtsmanship and gender-fluid mindset of Grayson Perry with the autobiographical honesty of Tracey Emin. Gough was born in South Korea where she had a successful early career as a shoe designer, working in Tokyo and London before moving to the UK where she pursued a career as a fine artist and ended up settling in Cambridge where she has a studio.

As well as the VainEgo exhibition at APT Gallery, Gough is going to be featured in a major group show at the prestigious Fondation d’entreprise Bernardaud in Limoges from June 2022 to March 2023. Limoges is the famed centre of ceramics where Picasso made some of his most iconic ceramic works. Gough will exhibit several pieces from her Gender-Fluid series in Limoges.

VainEgo consists of one word and depicts the artist in the mirror searching for her ego. As the fight against cancer began, she drew her feelings, which changed daily and also drew her nude body onto a ceramic bowl to document the changes in her physique during treatment.
The 108 VainEgo “Army of me” heads that will be on display at APT gallery in the ‘VainEgo’ exhibition were created at the time of Covid lockdown, when Gough selected 108 sketches out of 162 self-portraits she made during the time of her cancer diagnosis and treatment and sculpting them in three dimensions.

As well as the 108 sculptured heads, photographs and videos of the artist at that time will also be exhibited alongside 20 ‘VainEgo’ bowls decorated with the life story of Yurim Gough, documenting her journey from birth in Korea through her journey as a shoe designer and subsequent move to England. The bowls have titles such as ‘Born’, ‘Marriage’, ‘Paper Dolls’ and ‘Houses’, and each one tells a story about an important time of the artists’ life. For example about ‘Paper Doll’s Gough says: “At the age of five, I had collected close to one hundred paper dolls of people. I cut out the dolls from sheets of paper and clothed them with pretty clothes and trinkets, and imagined the lives of the different characters. I remember one day, I was sent to the supermarket with my mother ‘s purse to buy some food, and I bought a paper doll with the change. I was supposed to return the change to my mother.”

According to Gough the purpose of this exhibition is to make the audience see breast cancer more intimately, and also experience the innermost thoughts of the artist visually, whilst communicating how making art made her feel alive.

The APT gallery is part of the Art in Perpetuity Trust, a registered charity whose aims are to promote the value of creativity in the visual arts. APT was founded in 1995 by a group of artists in an old warehouse on Deptford Creek. APT provides 42 secure studios for visual artists, a contemporary art gallery, a working sculpture yard and an external public performance space.

Photograph of Yurim Gough with ‘Army of Me’ ceramic heads. Photo credit: Daniele Roberts Mah

APT Gallery 6 Creekside, Deptford London SE8 4SA Exhibition dates: 12th – 29th May 2022

Gallery opening hours: Thursday to Sunday, 12-5pm Private view: Thursday 12th May, 6-8pm
RSVP via Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/3KoaiEb

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