Kang Seung Lee: The Heart of A Hand

Kang Seung Lee: The Heart of A Hand

Image: Kang Seung Lee, Untitled (Seeds) (detail), 2023. Graphite, watercolor, antique 24k gold thread, Sambe, 24k gold leaf, oak gall and jacaranda seed pod from Elysian park, silver wire, pearls on goatskin parchment, brass nails, oak frame. Courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, Mexico City. Photo by Paul Salveson.

March 25 – July 22, 2023
OPENING RECEPTION: March 25, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Kang Seung Lee: The Heart of A Hand pays tribute to Goh Choo San (1948–1987), a pioneering Singaporean-born choreographer who died of an AIDS-related illness at the age of thirty-nine. Although Goh choreographed and performed for prominent ballet companies throughout Asia, Europe, and North America during his lifetime, his legacy remains largely absent from queer, cultural, and dance histories in the United States.

This exhibition presents new artworks created through extensive archival research, interviews, and collaborations. A series of drawings on goatskin parchment memorialize the relationships between Goh and his loved ones, such as his late partner H. Robert Magee, friend Janek Schergen, and sister Goh Soo Khim, while also commenting on historical and bodily erasure. Similarly, texts embroidered on Sambe cloth in antique 24-karat gold thread denote both mourning and reverence, honoring what has been lost and preserving memory in the aftermath of immense personal and community tragedy.

A central component of the exhibition is a single-channel video, created in collaboration with Joshua Serafin and Nathan Mercury Kim, that manifests a queer futurity imaginable through transnational inheritance and intergenerational memories. Loosely based on Goh’s neo-classical ballet, Configurations, commissioned by American Ballet Theater in 1981, Serafin, a Filipina dancer and choreographer based in Belgium, embodies a spectrum of emotional and physical states of belonging to express togetherness and kinship with Goh’s life and work. Likewise, KIRARA, a transgender composer and musician based in Seoul, takes inspiration from Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 38 (the score for Goh’s Configurations), to create a revitalized soundtrack for queer life and testament to the individual lives lived.

The Heart of A Hand derives its name from a poem by Mexican writer Xavier Villaurrutia (1903–1950). Woven throughout the exhibition are several passages by Villaurrutia and other artists of Goh’s generation, each transcribed in an American Sign Language font adapted by Lee from the paintings by artist Martin Wong (1946–1999). These texts, along with dried plants and seeds collected from various queer sites, draw new lines of connection among queer artists and lived experience across space and time.

About the artist

Kang Seung Lee is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in South Korea and now lives and works in Los Angeles. His work frequently engages the legacy of transnational queer histories, particularly as they intersect with art history. Lee has exhibited his work internationally with recent solo exhibitions at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (2021); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2021, 2017, 2016); 18th Street Arts Center (2020); One and J. Gallery, Seoul (2018); Artpace, San Antonio (2017); Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (2016); and Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont (2015). HHe has also participated in major group exhibitions and biennials, including Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living (2023), 13th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju (2021), and the New Museum Triennial, New York (2021). His work is in the collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; among others. Lee received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He is represented by Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, Mexico CIty and Gallery Hyundai, Seoul.

Generous support for this project is provided by the Mellon Foundation and the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.

Additional support provided through the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism of Korea, Korea Arts Management Service, and the grant program Fund for Korean Art Abroad.

All exhibitions and programs at the Vincent Price Art Museum are underwritten by the Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation and East Los Angeles College.