Out of the Shadows
Tatler Hong Kong|June 2021
The De Villepins have been fans of the mysterious, under-the-radar Korean artist Myonghi Kang for decades— now they’re putting her in the spotlight
Oliver Giles

For as long as he can remember, Arthur de Villepin has lived with paintings by the artist Myonghi Kang.

“Her art was always hanging in my family’s homes,” says Arthur, who last year opened a gallery in Hong Kong with his father, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin. “And in 2010, when I was leaving home to move to Hong Kong, my parents said to me, ‘What do you want to take?’ I chose three African masks and a small Myonghi drawing. It has some gold in it—in certain light it sparkles.”

Arthur still owns that drawing, which he now keeps in his bedroom next to another painting by Kang. Downstairs, a large canvas dominated by vivid splashes of green hangs above his dining table. Every morning, he admires it while he eats breakfast. Across the world, in Paris, a painting by Kang is one of the first things his father Dominique sees when he wakes up. Dominique has two other paintings by Kang hanging in his living room.

“Myonghi’s paintings are a big part of my life,” says Dominique. “They are not decorative—they have meaning, and every time I look at them, I see something different.”

After years living with Kang’s works, the De Villepins are now sharing them with others: from this month until October, they are hosting a solo exhibition of her paintings in their three-storey gallery in Hong Kong’s Central district, and they are already looking further afield. “We are also speaking to a museum in northern China about an exhibition and hopefully in the next few years we will bring her work to the US and to Europe,” says Arthur. “A small group of collectors have followed her and been very faithful in the way they’ve collected her art, but I really want to share her work with a wider community.”

Kang is something of an enigma. Her moody, meditative paintings have been exhibited at leading museums around the world, including the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the National Museum of China in Beijing, but her work has never appeared at auction at Christie’s or Sotheby’s and she has never been consistently represented by a major gallery. “She is not interested in the art market,” says Arthur. “She makes her work without compromise. She has built bridges with the past, with nature, with people, with light, with shadows, but not with the market—she doesn’t want to get into that, it’s my role to help with that.”

Kang was born in 1947 in Daegu, South Korea, where she grew up during the Korean War, the daughter of a single mother who was a civil servant and encouraged Kang’s interest in art by reading books to her on European masters. As the country was torn apart, the young Kang found solace in the paintings of Courbet and Cézanne that she saw in their pages, as well as in the natural world. “Looking at nature was a way to avoid looking at war,” says Kang, speaking over the phone in a rare interview from her studio on Jeju Island.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TATLER HONG KONGView All

ON THE CASE

Over the past decade, entrepreneur Wesley Ng has grown Casetify from a part-time passion project to one of the world’s largest tech accessories companies. Now, he is launching a new investment fund to build a global empire

10+ mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Black Beauties

American artist Mickalene Thomas, who has changed the way we look at Black bodies, is presenting her life’s work in New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong this autumn

8 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

The Kids are Alright

Entrepreneurs Shiva Shabani and Calvin Yu discuss channelling your inner child and their eyewear brand, Sons + Daughters

4 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Olivia Dawn Mok

The DJ, producer and musician blends classical training and modern technology to create her sound

2 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

A Whole New World

Ocean Park has resurrected its aquatic outpost for a new generation

2 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Best in S-Class

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class combines form and function in a luxurious saloon

2 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Stranger Tales

Hong Kong’s first Palme d’Or Short Film winner Tang Yi says her victory is the result of being true to herself

5 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Green Fingered

Creative director and CEO Nicolas Bos brings Van Cleef & Arpels’ take on flora and fauna out of the workshop and into Hong Kong

3 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

Raise a Glass

Celebrated French sculptor Jean-Michel Othoniel worked with Dior Men designer Kim Jones on a unique costume for his induction into Paris’s prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts

2 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021

What Dreams are Made of

Why La Prairie’s new Skin Caviar Nighttime Oil is the perfect addition to your bedtime ritual

2 mins read
Tatler Hong Kong
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

THE HOTTEST TECH TOYS FOR KIDS

From a build-it-yourself space station to a portable storyteller to Harry Potter’s Hedwig, here are the 2021 tech toys that’ll bring the kids in your life a ton of fun

4 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

MicrosoftOneDrive Is Ditching Windows 7, 8, and 8.1

The cloud storage platform will drop support for older versions of Windows in early 2022.

1 min read
PC Magazine
December 2021

THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2021

You need only one list this holiday season when you’re buying tech gifts. Here’s PCMag’s annual collection of the 101 most exceptional products tested and rated by our experts in the past year.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Facebook Shuts Down Its Facial-Recognition System

Facebook doesn’t point to a single incident that prompted the decision, but it comes as facial-recognition systems (and the social network in general) have come under fire.

2 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (for PC): Rich Fighting Game

Potent pocket fighting on PC

6 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

iRobot Roomba j7+: Smart and Capable

Peace of mind for people with accident-prone pets

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (Late 2021): Perennial Gaming Favorite

Faster CPU, better webcam bolster the beloved Blade 15

9 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

HP Chromebook x2 (2021): A Clever Combination

The best Chrome OS detachable of 2018 returns strong B

7 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

ESET NOD32 Antivirus: Way Beyond the Essential

An effective antivirus for the tech-savvy

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021

Beats Fit Pro: Solid ANC

A bass-heavy alternative to the AirPods Pro

9 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2021