Spoke SF is pleased to present Mago, a solo exhibition featuring new work by Portland- based painter and illustrator Stella Im Hultberg. The artist’s second solo exhibition with Spoke includes paintings and drawings exploring her Korean heritage and traditional folk stories.
Inspired by Korean myths and the artist’s experiences with motherhood, Hultberg has created an ethereal body of new work. According to Korean mythology Mago is the mother of mothers and the root of creation. Her daughters, the goddesses So-hee and Gung-hee birthed humanity. The artist explores her changing role both as daughter and mother, interweaving personal icons like the peony, representational of her mother, with her own interpretation of folklore.
Continuing her exploration of the figure and flora, Mago incorporates new elements such as traditional folk textiles and craft influences. Hultberg’s figures, positioned in dream-like and weightless landscapes, portray the duality of vulnerability and quiet strength. The Archer depicts a lone woman dressed in white amongst a field of blooming flowers holding a traditional gak-gung or horn bow “standing up to protect her people.” This specialized bow “when unstrung, would bend into a circle, making it very portable and light, and very resilient and elastic when strung up.”
The artist describes the bow as a “metaphor for all the potential energy and strength harbored in people who seem small and insignificant and less powerful.” Mago the title painting for the exhibition (pictured above) depicts the namesake deity as the mother mountain with her daughters, charged with contemplation, life and potential.