Sublime Installations Made From Thousands of Beads and Buttons Celebrate Korean Architecture

Palace Series by Ran Hwang

“East Wind_K(LT),” 2015.

Korean-born artist Ran Hwang is known for her ingenious use of materials to build up contemporary installations. Using beads, buttons, and pins, she works meticulously to create textural artworks that are stunning from both afar and up close. With her Palace Series, she applies this technique to traditional Korean architecture and the results are astonishing.

Hwang was inspired by the five grand palaces of Seoul—Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Gyeonghuigung, Deoksugung, and Changgyeonggung. By reinterpreting these landmarks, she aims to explore the futility of human desire and its delusions.

By placing the pins at different levels, Hwang brings dynamism and perspective to each piece. As the architectural elements of these palaces are elongated and distorted, they play with our expectations. Each feels at once familiar and foreign.

“My main intention of creating these distorted architectural structures is to show the tension between the limitations imposed by our current society and the human desire for freedom,” Hwang tells My Modern Met. “I'm hoping that viewers can get some time to contemplate and reflect on current society. I put a lot of effort in giving shape to the idea and concept in my works.”

These detailed installations require intense thought, both in the planning and execution. “I take a performative approach,” says Hwang, “by going through a laborious, ritualistic process of repetitive hammering as if practicing Zen Buddhism to depict the arduous time on reflecting ourselves and the desireful society.”

As a whole, the Palace Series is a fascinating meditation on tradition, patience, and the human spirit.

Artist Ran Hwang's Palace Series was inspired by the five grand palaces of Seoul, Korea.

Contemporary Art by Ran Hwang Contemporary Art by Ran Hwang Palace Series by Ran Hwang Palace Series by Ran Hwang
Contemporary Art by Ran Hwang

“White Wind,” 2013.

Contemporary Art by Ran Hwang

Each piece is composed of thousands of pins, beads, and buttons.

Korean Palace Made of Beads and Buttons by Ran Hwang

“First Wind_CL,” 2015.

Palace Series by Ran Hwang Korean Palace Made of Beads and Buttons by Ran Hwang Art Made of Everyday Materials
Korean Palace Made of Beads and Buttons by Ran Hwang

“East Wind from Old Palace,” 2012.

Contemporary Art by Ran Hwang Palace Series by Ran Hwang Architectural Installation by Ran Hwang

Ran Hwang: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Ran Hwang.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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