Tuesday: 12:00 – 17:00
Sat & Holidays: 10:00-14:00
Sundays: Groups only
Curator: Shir Meller-Yamaguchi
Over the course of the 20th century, Korea was shaken by numerous events that molded its character. In 1945, Korea was emancipated from fifty years of Japanese colonialism, yet shortly thereafter, it was drawn into a bitter war that resulted in its being torn into two countries: Communist North Korea and Democratic South Korea. Following the war, Korea had to redefine its identity in order to develop into a modern country while simultaneously preserving its unique cultural tradition.
Two central art movements that arose in South Korea following the war expressed both of these trends: The Monochrome Movement (1960-80) continued the spirit of traditional ink drawings, yet was influenced by American abstract expressionism and Color Field Painting. The Mingjung movement, which arose in the 1980s, attempted to revive folk art and culture and to use it to critique the values of western capitalism.
This exhibition primarily present works of leading contemporary Korean artists, expressing their traditional love for the beauty of monochrome. They are characterized by attentiveness for details, and a search for new materials and ways of expression along with awe-inspiring assiduous diligence. These qualities place Korean art in a central position in the realm of international art.
Several of the works attempt at creating a perfect visual illusion: Jong Sik Choi’s ink stain surprisingly was drawn in pencil with unceasing patience. Seung Mo Park creates contemplative portraits of Korean women out of thin layers of carefully placed netting, which appear from a distance as photographs.
Another group of works are composed of tiny details that come together to create surfaces with exceptional textures: moonlit landscapes produced by Chun Kwang-Young, created from an assortment of pieces of paper covered with Korean printed letters, bearing the secrets of ancient Korean culture. Jaehyo Lee’s abstract sculptures are made out of steel nails imbedded in a wooden beam that he fires. The nails bend into wavy lines and create winding movement on the rectangular field. Kwon Daehun’s forest landscapes are constructed of projecting pieces of metal. When the piece is illuminated from different angles, different images gradually appear. A closer look allows one to follow the internal movement of the particles, while a wider view reveals that they are organized into clear shapes and structures.
Additional works allow viewers to see mystery in familiar objects: An unexpected event breathes life into clothes in a closet in the photographs of Myung Su Ham. Sang Taek Oh draws an illuminated jug as if in a dream – delicate hatching gently descending upon it from the surrounding space. Siyon Jin’s panoramic video installation – Onju Temple – begins with a tranquil and simple mountain landscape sketched in pencil that develops into a spectacular presentation of sparks of light whirling together into an image of Buddha.
These works impart a double message. Behind the restrained quietness that they project, underground currents flow, suggesting the possibility of disintegration and reconstruction.