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Posts Tagged ‘Korean artists’

Curator Tobias Berger talks about Korean contemporary art scene in 4 questions

Posted by artradar on September 20, 2010


SOUTH KOREA CONTEMPORARY ART INTERVIEW CURATOR

Art Radar Asia recently spoke with German-born curator Tobias Berger, who currently holds the position of Chief Curator at the Nam June Paik Art Center, about the Center’s exhibition “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain“. During this interview, Berger also revealed a few of his observations on living and working in the Korean art environment.

Korean art has always been in the shadow of Japanese and Chinese artistic success, often “dismissed as a mere conduit between the two mega cultures.” This may be because few of the local magazines, exhibition catalogues and other art texts produced on Korean contemporary art are available in English. As Berger states, “There are none. They’re all in Korean. There’s nothing really good in English.” And while the local art scene is perhaps not on par with what can be experienced in these neighbouring countries, Berger notes that the art that is being produced in Korea is of a very high quality, due to good art schools, a diversity of art spaces, talented pioneers and governmental support.

This Korean contemporary art sculpture was shown at "Korean Eye: Moon Generation".

'Shamoralta Shamoratha' (2007) by Inbai Kim was shown at "Korean Eye: Moon Generation" in 2009. Korean Eye was founded in 2009 as a way to support emerging Korean artists by providing international exhibition opportunities.

As a European who formerly lived and worked in the Hong Kong art scene, how do you find the South Korean art scene compares?

“The Seoul art scene is probably the most sophisticated art scene in Asia. It has really good independent spaces, good commercial galleries, interesting art schools and good museums. It has this whole pyramid of different art spaces, exhibition possibilities, and it has a lot of really good and wonderful artists. That level of depth and the level of different kinds of art spaces is incomparable. Certainly in Beijing [you] have galleries, but you don’t have any independent spaces, and in Tokyo it’s also very different.”

How do you keep up to date with the Korean art scene?

That is a problem because it’s all in Korean and it’s very difficult to keep up [with]. I mean, you just go to the 10-15 [art] spaces once a month … and you talk to your friends and your colleagues that go to the big exhibitions…. You just have to look at how it is. There was a [recent] survey show called “Bright Future” but it only had twelve artists.

Tell us about the art school system in Korea? How does it differ from other places?

It’s the most sophisticated [system] because it had some good pioneers [and] a lot of governmental help. [South Korea] has some good art schools and it has a lot of good artists that have studied overseas and come back. This allowed a lot of critical discourse and [there were] a lot of magazines. That allowed the art scene to grow well and in the right way.

Korean art is becoming popular with international collectors. “Korean Eye, for example, was shown at The Saatchi Gallery in London earlier this year. Can you tell us why you think this is happening now?

“Here in South Korea you don’t feel that there’s much happening. The Korean scene is nothing compared to what’s happening in China…. On the one side, these shows, where this is popular or that is popular, don’t really mean a thing. There is a lot of good art in South Korea and the quality of the art is really on a high level, because art education has been good for 15-20 years. A lot of people are educated in Europe and America and have very good support and certainly output good quality art…. I mean, you don’t want to buy or you don’t want to show an artist because he’s Korean, you want to show an artist because he’s a good artist.”

JAS/KN/HH

Related topics: Korean artists, interviews, Tobias Berger, curators

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Follow “The Penguin” to the mountain – Tobias Berger on the NJPAC show

Posted by artradar on August 24, 2010


KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS EMERGING ARTISTS

The Penguin that goes to the Mountain“, an exhibition of contemporary art by young and emerging Korean artists, recently finished up this month at the Nam June Paik Art Center (NJPAC). It took the viewer on a journey from the ordered and well-known to the broken-up and disastrous. Embracing works beyond the visual arts, the exhibition presented practitioners that produced critical and demanding work often relating to the surreal and fictional. Below, Art Radar presents you with images from the exhibition and an interview with NJPAC curator Tobias Berger.

The Nam June Paik Art Center, established to celebrate and illuminate Nam June Paiks avant-garde spirit, finished running “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” last week. The exhibition displayed various methods of expression, including the visual arts, stage productions, media, theatre and animated films from 23 emerging and relatively unknown artists and artist groups. These include:

Mano AHN, Sungeun CHANG, Eunphil CHO, Yeoja DDAN, Subin HEO, Intergate, Jaechoul JEOUNG, Dokyun KIM, Kimoon KIM, Minkyu KOH, Jihoi LEE, Jinwook MOON, Moowang MOON, Sohyun MOON, Adjong PARK, Seungwon PARK, post-EAT, Jinwoo RYU, Rhee SEI, Joonghyup SEO, Mongjoo SON, Hojun SONG, Vaemo, Donhwi YOUN

"The Penguin that goes to the Mountain", an exhibition held at Korea's Nam June Paik Center this year.

"The Penguin that goes to the Mountain", an exhibition held at Korea's Nam June Paik Art Center this year. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Focusing on the concept of “intermedia”, the exhibition proposed imaginative alternative ways to look at artistic production. Deconstructing the art center’s existing space and previously defined exhibition criteria this exhibition pushed the boundaries of the working methodologies of all those involved in its preparation and reception – from the artists and curatorial and technical staff, to the gallery assistants, and even the audience.

The title comes from Werner Herzogs 2007 documentary film made in Antarctica called “Encounter at the End of the World. The film chronicles the story of a penguin that leaves its normal habitat for the unknown world of a mountain. The idea for the exhibition came from the fact that pioneering artists such as the late Nam June Paik dared to explore new territories, combining many often unrelated genres.

Art Radar Asia spoke to Tobias Berger, Chief Curator of Nam June Paik Art Center, to find out more about the exhibition.

What prompted “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? What is the mission of NJPAC and how does this show fit with that mission?

It was the need to show some young, edgy new work by professionals from different disciplines; the try out of new curatorial concepts by using some ideas from theater productions; to blur borders between the different disciplines. These are all the parts of the misson of what the Nam June Paik Art Center is showing. Paik wanted this to be ‘the house where his spirit lives on for a very long time’ and showing interdisciplinary young works is certainly Paik’s spirit.

Moon Moowang, 'Neurogenic Plything', 2010.

Moowang MOON, 'Neurogenic Plything', 2010. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Can you tell us about how “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” is organised? What are the themes?

We took a very strong curatorial approach to the exhibition and it’s basically a voyage from the rather clean and not minimal. The further you go through the exhibition, the more chaotic it becomes and the more difficult it becomes to navigate. There’s a chaotic room, where two walls in the middle are falling down and the works are very tied together … We tried to put in a more kind of theatric setting.

Are there styles or mediums which predominate in “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? Why do you think that is?

… we have sculpture to video to photography to big installations. As usual in contemporary art you do have quite a lot of videos.

Moon Sohyun, 'Poisoning of Light', 2007.

Sohyun MOON, 'Poisoning of Light', 2007. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

How did you select the artists for “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? What characteristics were you looking for?

I think we looked for artists that really went to the edge or over the edge. That is the idea of this penguin that goes to the mountain. It’s a penguin that leaves the others and just goes this way. We more collected different works. It was not a show where we selected ten artists and asked them to do new works. It was more a show where we saw certain works that fitted into the idea of ‘The Penguin’ or into our curatorial context.

Which of your artists has drawn the most interest at “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”?

There are some controversial video works that are quite challenging. One is talking about the subject of sex, which is a little bit of an interesting subject in South Korea. The other one is an animated video, where [the subject] kind of begins to cut off her fingernails and then her fingertips and then her fingers. It’s an animation, but it’s also quite visual. I think these works are quite controversial, but also in a good way controversial.

Son Mongjoo, 'The Animals Were Gone', 2008.

Mongjoo SON, 'The Animals Were Gone', 2008. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

The artists in “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” are all emerging or young artists. What problems do you see for young artists compared with older generation artists working today? In what ways are young artists fortunate, as compared with older artists?

They all have problems and challenges. It’s going to be interesting, how do we justify and how do we not justify them? How do we relate to the art of the older generation? How do we look at it and how do we look at the artist in their mid-career. How do we judge them? You need curators, writers and critics that can evaluate different types of art. Museums can be stiff and kick out the most avant-garde. Maybe because they’re not commercial, maybe they’re a bit too challenging, maybe they’re too critical. So it is the question of the entry into the galleries or the museums or the institutions. A lot of times, the most interesting artists don’t find galleries because if you’re a media artist or performance artist your work doesn’t sell as easily as a painter. But you’re still certainly a much more interesting artist than a certain painter. How do we find a way to deal with that problem? So it has nothing to do with older or younger. It has more to do with genres.

How do you find dealing or working with young artists as opposed to established artists?

They are certainly much more involved in the process and much more interested in what’s going on, more than the established artists that have done big shows in museums many times. For [the young artists], it’s the first time to do an institutional exhibition and that brings a certain tension, but it’s basically good tension that brings out new works and quite interesting work.

Does NJPAC intend to feature other works from students, graduates or emerging artists?

In [“The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”], we cared if the work fitted into the context of the exhibition. Certainly we didn’t care if it was a young artist or an established artist, or if he’s Asian or European. But sure, we will in the future invite students or just-freshly-graduated artists again.

Song Hojun, 'G.O.D.', 2009.

Hojun SONG, 'G.O.D.', 2009. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Have there been any unusual, unexpected or interesting responses to “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” from the viewers and critics?

It’s Paik Art Center. People expect tough or different art…. I think the people who come here know what they can expect. There was nothing surprising or unusual, because people expect the surprising and unusual at Nam June Paik Art.

The Penguin that Goes to the Mountain” ran from 5 June until 22 August this year at South Korea’s Nam June Paik Art Center.

Tobias Berger also spoke with us about the Korean contemporary art scene: how accessible it is to non-Korean speakers; the current worldwide popularity of Korean art; the innovative non-profit art spaces in Korea. We will present this interview on Art Radar in the coming weeks.

JAS/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Korean artists, museum shows, interviews, installations

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“Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary” exhibition tours London, Singapore, and Seoul

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


KOREAN ARTISTS WESTERN EXPOSURE

The Saatchi Gallery in London once again hosted the popular exhibition “Korean Eye“, which showcases emerging Korean artists to the West. This year the exhibition will travel; in October and November it will travel to Singapore and Seoul with the aim of reaching a wider audience.

“Korean Eye,” founded by curator David Ciclitira, specialises in introducing Korean artists to the international market, giving them recognition outside the Asian region. The first exhibition, “Korean Eye: Moon Generation” in 2009, was extended due to its popularity, reaching 40,000 visitors in two weeks, and ultimately drawing a total 250,000 visitors.

The 2010 exhibition “Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary” hosts over thirty works by twelve talented Korean artists with little prior exposure to the Western market. This year the show started off at the Saatchi Gallery in London, and will move to Singapore in October and Seoul in November, to coincide with the G20 Summit.

Bae Joon Sung, 'The Costume of Painter - Drawing of Museum R, J. L. David lie down Dress Inn', 2009, oil and lenticular on canvas, 181.8 x 259.1 cm.

Bae Joon Sung, 'The Costume of Painter - Drawing of Museum R, J. L. David lie down Dress Inn', 2009, oil and lenticular on canvas, 181.8 x 259.1 cm.

The ten artists participating in this years exhibit are: Bae Chan Hyo, Bae Joon Sung, Gwon Osang, Young In Hong, Jeon Joonho, Ji Yong Ho, Kim Dong Yoo, Kim Hyun Soo, Park Eun Young, and Shin Meekyoung. In addition, 2009 Joong Ang Fine Art Prize winner Jeon Chae Gang and Perrier-Jouet nominated artist Lee Rim will join the list of members.

The success of the franchise clearly shows a rise in interest towards Korean art, but may also have something to do with shrewd management. In a 2009 Art Radar interview, “Korean Eye” founder David Ciclitira revealed his views on the future of the art industry and his unique take on the management of art exhibitions, both of which should involve not only collector and auction house input but also government support and bank sponsorship.

What I’ve found interesting in this whole learning process is how unsophisticated the art world is, because when you work in major sports events, there are more dates, so much more research, everything is television linked to media values, and art feels amateur when you look at how they do things, and it’s no small wonder that when they need to raise massive money, they find it quite hard.

“Korean Eye” is funded by Standard Chartered, one of Britain’s largest banks, and features each of its artists along with a catalogue of their work to create an international selling environment for the brand new Korean works. It has opened up a window of awareness for Korean art in the West and suggests a rise in Korean contemporary art sales in future.

Plans for the 2011 and 2012 exhibitions have already been made and involve further expansion. “Korean Eye” will continue at Saatchi Gallery in 2011 and in 2012, and in 2012, plans have been made to expand “Korean Eye” over the entire gallery, where works will be selected and curated by Charles Saatchi and the gallery’s team.

MM/KN

Related Topics: David Ciclitira, gallery shows, Korean artists, venues – London

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Posted in Asia expands, Business of art, David Ciclitira, Gallery shows, Korean, London, Promoting art, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

27 contemporary Southeast Asian artists featured in ASEAN-Korea photo exhibition

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


KOREAN ASEAN CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION

Created to showcase the range of dynamic contemporary photography coming from Korean and Southeast Asian artists, Emerging Wave“, currently on view at the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan (South Korea), features works from 27 artists ranging from emerging creators to established veterans.

Established in March 2009, the ASEAN-Korea Centre promotes both cultural and economic cooperation between Korea and the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member countries. The organisation  recently partnered with Seoul Art Centre’s Hangaram Art Museum to open their 2010 photo exhibition which features 27 artists from 11 countries.

The exhibition, which is the second since ASEAN-Korea Centre’s launch, exposes the international community to new work by some of Southeast Asia’s brightest contemporary photographers. While many of the participants are veterans, the exhibition gives younger artists exposure to the contemporary art scene of a major city such as Seoul.

“Emerging Wave” attracts artists from all over ASEAN region

For example, for emerging Bruneian photographers Hirfian Hussain and Akmal Benangsutera, the exhibition is an opportunity to showcase the budding photography scene in their home country, as well as a chance to connect with dedicated artists from outside of Brunei.

Artists well-established in other media also make up this year’s selected names such as Burmese performance and installation artist Po Po. While not considered a prolific artist – he has had only two solo exhibitions since 1987 – his work is thoughtful and full of depth. As an artist who works with different media there is much crossover within his work. With his photography he employs elements of cubism, a movement he considers to be painting’s “highest state of intellectual approach.”

Po Po, Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1, 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm

Po Po, 'Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1', 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm.

“How can I make cubist photos which present every aspect of a thing? These works are not objects of material.  They are objects of mind”.

Although in an article on the Myanmar Times website Po Po states his distinterest in “flashy technology or visual hype”, his selected photos demonstrate his willingness to experiment with newer media to create complex, visually stimulating images without losing the sincerity of his message.

Like Po Po, Singaporean artist Mintio incorporates multiple overlapping angles in photos from her “Concrete Euphoria” series (2008-2009).

Mintio, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm

Mintio, 'Kuala Lumpur City Centre', 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm.

In spite of being relatively young Mintio, who got her start at a major commercial studio at age 16, has already created a stir with her documentation of Asia’s largest cities using long-exposure techniques. For Mintio, the process is about both rediscovery and finding the unknown in familiar things.

“At the end of the day, no matter how familiar we think we are with a person or a place, there always will be jewels left undiscovered. Perhaps the answer of what a place or city means might just be a continuous journey of finding those jewels.”

Also on display is work by fellow Singaporean Zhao Renhui, a resident artist and member of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. Zhao channels his fascination with man’s perception of animals into photos sometimes depicting live or taxidermy creatures, and other times depicting man’s often futile attempts to be at one with nature. In an interview with Asian Photography Blog, Zhao expresses the idea that photography is a medium through which people “relate to animals and the world”. At the same time it is a medium which “blurs the distinction between fact and fiction”. In one particular image he presents a zoologist who appears nearly invisible with the aid of a camoflague cloak and photo manipulation.

Zhao Renhui, Tottori Sand Dunes, 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm

Zhao Renhui, 'Tottori Sand Dunes', 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm.

In doing so, Zhao presents a surreal image as reality and challenges the validity of photography as a medium for depiciting truth. For the artist, reality in photography is illusory and constantly in flux. Viewers must try to make sense of the natural, scientic world through a manipulated, and possibly false, image.

A fascination with perceptions of truth also permeates the photographs of Thai artist Dow Wasiksiri and Vietnamese artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran. While Streitmatter-Tran makes no attempt to hide the artifice of his composite images, Wasiksiri’s saturated photos capture a side of Thai culture that he feels foreigners are not exposed to when viewing the “styled and staged” images of Thailand. According to the artist’s statement on his website:

“Visitors are presented with contrived, idealized images of Thainess by Thais ourselves … countless published views of Thailand are staged and styled. The contrivance and the reality rarely match, leading to startling juxtapositions”.

In presenting what he calls the “unexpected moments”, Dow aims to show unabashed ‘Thainess’ with humor and unself-consciousness.

Indonesian photographer Angki Purbandono makes use of what he calls a “freestyle” approach which allows him to employ methods ranging from collage to the scannography technique used in “Avocado Horse” (2010). Even so, Purbandono doesn’t separate himself from other photographers too much.

“Just like other people working with photography, I play with objects, considering light as important and employing a dark room to print my work.”

Angki Purbandono, Avocado Horse, 2010, Scannography, 100 x 100 cm

Angki Purbandono, 'Avocado Horse', 2010, scannography, 100 x 100 cm.

Korean artists well represented in “Emerging Wave”

Although most of the eleven countries are represented by two artists, organisers made sure to give Korean artists plenty of additional exposure. Bright candied flora populate the work of Koo Seong Youn while Hyun Mi Yoo seems to suspend falling objects in time with skillful compositions. The warped perspectives of Zu Do YangWawi Navarroza’s impersonation of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and “real vs. unreal” themes explored by artist Lee Yeleen add to the diversity of subject matter and style. Given that they were chosen for their talent and thoughtful innovation, it comes as no surprise that “Emerging Wave” participants turn the idea of photography on its head. With their photos they call on viewers to question the factual nature not just of the images they view but also the experiences which they have come to accept as normal and routine.

Koo Seong Youn Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm

Koo Seong Youn, 'Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm.

Other artists included in the show are Koreans Choi Jung Won, Lee Won Chul, and Nanda; Laotians Manichanh Pansivongsay and Phonephet Sitthivong; Indonesian artist Arya Pandjalu; Filipina artist Bea Camacho; Malaysian artists Liew Kung Yu and Tan Nan See; Burmese artist Thit Lwin Soe; Tanapol Kaewpring; Vietnamese artist Le Kinh Tai; and Cambodians Sok Sophal and Tralong Borin.

The exhibition has moved from the Hangaram Art Museum to the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan and will close on 8 August.

EH/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian, photography, museum shows

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Troubles for Korean art at home, better reception abroad – Korean Herald, New York Magazine

Posted by artradar on January 20, 2009


Lee Yong Deok Singapore Art Museum

Lee Yong Deok Singapore Art Museum

KOREAN ART

‘Art Market in Doldrums as Auction Bids Plunge’ shouts the title of a story in Chosun.

The Korean art market is reeling from the economic crisis, with the highest bid prices at domestic art auctions plunging 38.2 percent last year. So Jin-su, professor at Kangnam University and manager at an art market researcher, on Monday released a report on Korea’s art market in 2008, which said the sum of the highest bids at domestic art auctions was W119.1 billion (US$1=W1,314) last year, down 38.2 percent from W192.6 billion in 2007.
Chosun

The art market has seen a downward trend since the end of 2007 after two years of a boom. The financial crisis is a major cause but the Korean art world has stumbled through a series of setbacks in 2008.

Fire and forgeries hit Korean art

  •  Flames swallowed Namdaemun, Korea’s 600-year-old National Treasure No. 1, on Feb. 10, breaking the hearts of Koreans.
  • Shin Jeong-ah, a former art professor and curator who forged her academic credentials and embezzled gallery money, was sentenced to a year and six months in prison in April.
  • Park Soo-keun’s painting “A Wash Place.” was sold for a record 4.52 billion won ($3.4 million) last May but was soon entangled in forgery controversies.
  • Other pieces by famous artists such as Kwon Ok-yeon and Do Sang-bok were put up at auction but were exposed as fake by the artists themselves or their surviving family. The auctions were canceled at the last minute.

Vacancies and misuse of budgets in art institutions

Important instutions and galleries were left with gaping holes in their ranks and budgets.

Hong Ra-hee, the former head of the Samsung Museum of Art, Leeum and who was selected as the most powerful figure in Korean art industry, announced that she would no longer participate in any of Leeum’s business when she resigned earlier this year. Her resignation was the result of the accusation that she used some of Samsung’s slush funds to supplement her collection of paintings. Roy Lichtenstein’s painting, “Happy Tears,” was at the center of the controversy.

Kim Yun-su, the former director of the National Museum of Contemporary Arts, was dismissed in November, accused of buying Marcel Duchamp’s installation art “La Boite en Valise” for an inappropriately high 600 million won without going through proper purchasing procedures.

Kim Jeong-heon, former chairman of the Arts Council Korea, was also released from the office in December for a similar reason, the misuse of the council’s budget. He was blamed for an investment loss of 5.4 billion won, which allegedly came in the form of regulations violations.

Gallery, fair and auction sales at home down

According to the Korean Herald gallery insiders say ‘with a big sigh that this year was the worst in sales ever’.

The art auction market, which was worth over 192.6 billion won last year, dropped over 40 percent, to 114.9 billion won. More than 80 percent of the bid was successful last year but this year, only 50 percent managed to sell. New auction companies such as D auction and Open auction are delaying the opening of their businesses.

It is the same situation with biennales and art fairs. Many opened this year, including Gwangju Biennale, Busan Biennale, Daegu Photo Biennale and Korea International Art Fair.

In size and quality, they left nothing to be desired. Most of them succeeded in attracting their most visitors ever, as 360 thousand visited Gwangju and 160 visited Busan during the period.The fairs, however, did not result in good sales. More than 61 thousand visitors entered the KIAF this year, but the sales dropped from 17.5 billion won last year to 14 billion won.

New tax on art introduced

Starting from 2011, art pieces that cost more than 60 million won will be taxable. Works of Korean artists are excluded but

galleries worry that the real-name dealings system will make the art market shrink even more, considering how art collectors usually do not open to the public the specifics of the dealings. They also question how exactly the government will be able to estimate the prices of each art piece.

Opportunities in the gloom: Koreans move into world market

A light of hope does shine on the troubled art industry, though. Some auction companies and art galleries are paving their way into the world market, trying to survive through the depression.

Seoul Auction and K auction, the top two auction companies in Korea advanced into Hong Kong and Macao this year and are putting up a good fight. Seoul Auction sold Lichtenstein’s “Still Life with Stretcher, Mirror, Bowl of Fruit” at 9.3 billion won in Hong Kong.

Arario Gallery, Gallery Hyundai, and PKM gallery opened in China, Arario Gallery and Gana Art Gallery in New York, and Pyo Gallery in Los Angeles in the United States.

Korean Herald

 And it seems as if the strategy of going global might just have a chance. At Art Basel Miami in December 2008, Korean art sold strongly and conceptualist and sculptor Hyungkoo Lee was a big hit says  New York  Magazine

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13 Korean artists in survey at Singapore Museum to March 2009 – IHT

Posted by artradar on December 5, 2008


Yim Tae-kyu 'Fly Away Home'
Yim Tae-kyu ‘Fly Away Home’

KOREAN ART SINGAPORE

Singapore Art Museum 8 November 2008 – 15 March 2009

Over the past six decades, Korea has witnessed enormous economic and social changes that artists have responded to with a diverse range of approaches, as they grappled with tensions between tradition and modernism, and issues of industrialization and urbanization. Two main ideological movements have emerged, one trying to transcend tradition, and the other trying to rediscover it, yet both have one common quest: finding a strong cultural identity.The exhibition, “Transcendence: Modernity and Beyond in Korean Art,” at the Singapore Art Museum, examines the development of Korean art from the 1950s to the present as seen through the works of 13 artists.

“From a broad perspective, modern Korean art may be seen to be oscillating between two seemingly divergent approaches. On one hand, there seems to be an effort to transcend traditional forms; yet, on the other, many artists have been attempting to rediscover the spirit of traditional art,” said Suenne Megan Tan, one of the two curators of the exhibition, “The idea is really to give visitors a good taste of Korean art over the last 50 years.”

Section 1: 1950s Korean Modernism

The show, which runs until March 15, has three broadly themed sections. The first part looks at the origins of Korean Modernism in the 1950s and focuses on three major artists: Park Seo Bo, Lee Ufan and Kim Tschang Yeul. “They’re generally regarded as key artists that have helped move Korean art into modernity,” Tan said.

Informel period

After the Korean War (1950-1953), artists started to seek new ways of expression, while reflecting on the scars of the war. “I think poverty was really the origin of creation for many artists right after the civil war,” Park said recently through an interpreter while in town for the opening of the show. “There was no food, no job opportunity, everything had gone back to ashes; all conventional values and ideas were laid naked and bare. I had to raise questions.”

Between 1957 and 1965, Park was one of the leading forces behind the Korean Informel movement, the first major abstract movement in Korea to challenge the established Japanese-mediated, French Impressionism style (Korea was under Japanese rule between 1910-1940). Informel works often used rough brushwork and mixed media on a large-scale canvas with strong color in an abstract style. Yet, although artists were looking at ways to experiment, they also sought to adapt abstract principles and include some Korean iconography in their works, noted Choi Eun Ju, guest curator for the show and branch director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Deoksugung in Seoul.

 Monochronism

Park was also a key player in another important Korean art movement, Monochromism, which he defined as the synthesis between the traditional Korean spirit and contemporary art. Proponents of this 1970s movement, which included Lee Ufan, emphasized the color white, a color often associated with the “spirit” of the Korean people.

Today, Park’s works are characterized by the use of soaked Korean mulberry paper mixed with glue, which he then manipulates on the canvas with constant strokes using a small wooden tool to create small, equidistantly spaced paper ridges. Through the repetitive, rhythmic force on the canvas, the artist says he is striving to reach “something absolute.”

“For me, painting has become a mere tool and method to cleanse and purify myself,” the 77-year-old artist said, likening his work to chanting in a temple.

Although they have different backgrounds – Park was trained in Korea, Lee in Japan and Kim in Europe and the United States – all three have imbued their works with Korean sensibilities, aesthetics and philosophy, Tan pointed out. Kim, who is best known for the translucent water drops on his paintings, has introduced Chinese characters in his work, an intrinsic part of Korean culture because of the neighboring country’s influence on Korea over the centuries.

Section 2: 1970s- 1980s

The second part of the exhibition looks at the generation of artists who emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and who started to incorporate everyday objects into their canvas and to work in a more figurative style.

One of them, Kim Kang Yong, has become known as “the brick artist” because of his use of sand on canvases to depict bricks in various permutations.

“My work is very much about the industrialization of our society,” Kim said. “I first started using grains of sand and bricks as a reflection on individuality and the role of individuals in nation-building. But today, I’m using the motif more as an aesthetic tool.” Sometimes the bricks are arranged in a grid-like format, conveying the beauty of order; in others, they tumble toward the viewers, conveying turbulence.

Several of the other artists shown in this section, such as Lee Yong Deok, Cheong Kwang Ho and Lee Lee Nam, have been stretching the notion of the painting medium. Lee Young Deok, for example, first sculpts a figure then creates a cast of it and uses that mold as his final art work, thus offering the viewer a “negative” of his sculpture. Cheong Kwang Ho uses thin copper wire to create three-dimensional, see-through sculptures that have a certain weightlessness to them as though drawn in the air. Using video, Lee Lee Nam gives viewers of his “moving paintings” an opportunity to reflect on the passing of time and to question what is real. Using traditional Chinese landscapes in digital format, he “transforms” them, slowly changing the landscape – modern skyscrapers appear and disappear amid a traditional mountain landscape, or snow starts to fall.

Section 3: 1990s

The remainder of the show focuses on Korean art of the 1990s, which has largely been a reaction to the modernism of the ’70s and ’80s, showing a greater concern with the social function of art. “The contemporary generation goes beyond visual aesthetics and pushing the boundaries of the medium; rather, their art reflects their social concerns for the individual, the marginalized, as well as the tensions that exist within society,” Tan said.

Yim Tae Kyu, for example, started his “marginal man” series in 2002 as solitary melancholic figures that have evolved into a more optimistic and colorful series based on childhood imagery. “I first started with black and white works, looking at people alienated from society. But I then began to see that these people have dreams, hopes, aspirations. I felt marginalized because I was an artist, but I also started to have my own dreams; that’s when I started using color,” said Yim, who recently moved to Beijing: “I think the Beijing art scene is very experimental right now; I want to feel the vibes.”

Tan said that in the 1990s art took on a public function. “In the case of an artist like Kang Ik Joong,” she said, “art is used as an important tool in fostering connectivity across geographical boundaries and cultures.”

Kang has described himself as a collector of people’s dreams, translating those onto miniature canvases, providing “windows” into the hopes and dreams of the people he meets.

International Herald Tribune

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Korean contemporary art spread through Asia threatened by meltdown

Posted by artradar on September 30, 2008


Ham Jin Aewan 1025 c-print

Ham Jin Aewan 1025 c-print

 

 

 

 

 

KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

Korean artists and galleries have made a huge impact on Beijing recently with the presence of PKM Gallery, Do Art and Arario Beijing in the Brewery International Art Garden says Theme magazine. All three spaces showcase Korean artists but throw Chinese and international artists into the mix as well.  “Today some of the best galleries in Beijing are Korean” agrees Dr Katie Hill, writer curator and lecturer specialising who is currently writing a book on Visual Modernity in China to be published by Lund Humphries in 2009.

Further south, Seoul Auction, Korea’s largest and longest-established saleroom, has announced its move into the Hong Kong market.

Seoul Auction will be the first Asian saleroom to enter the Hong Kong market reports the Financial Times and is kicking off on October 7 2008 with a $38.5m sale of modern and contemporary art. “Hong Kong is now the world’s third biggest art market and has huge growth potential,” says the firm’s marketing director Misung Shim. Among the offerings is Roy Lichtenstein’s “Still Life with Stretcher, Mirror, Bowl of Fruit” (1972), with an estimated sale price of $9m-$10m and Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled XVI” (1982), with an estimated price of $5.85m-$7.8m, as well as contemporary Chinese and Korean art.

To the west ARTSingapore 2008, held this year 10 – 13 October 2008 and known in the past for its focus on South East Asian works, will for the first time in its history have significant representation from India, Japan and particularly Korea. This year 22 new Korean galleries will participate including Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Gallery Neo, Gallery Yeh, Gallery SP and Gallery Bhak.

But with financial markets floundering, is the timing right for Korean artists and galleries to realise their ambitions?

Absolutely not claims the Financial Times , after all visitors were thin on the ground at this month’s Korean International Art Fair, ‘which opened its doors on the “day of days”, when international financial markets were in meltdown’. With the Kospi (Korean stock index) in freefall and the won plummeting, “it was hardly the time to expect Koreans to buy art”. What a contrast to last year, when the Korean art market was booming, Korean buyers were active in auctions in New York and three new art funds were launched.  “The problem is, 80 per cent of Korean art buyers are pure speculators,” said Juhl Joohyun Lee, director of Arario gallery, “and the international situation is having a drastic effect on the Asian art markets.”

Further discouraging buyers is the fallout from the Samsung scandal. Earlier this year Korea’s golden couple, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-Hee and his wife Hong Ra-Hee were accused of using money from a $64m slush fund to buy art for the Leeum, Samsung’s art museum. Lee stepped down from his chairmanship of Samsung, and while Hong was cleared of these charges, buying by Samsung, previously one of the country’s biggest art collectors, has apparently come to a total halt.

Click here for more on collectors, Korean contemporary art, art recession, globalisation of art markets.

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Posted in Acquisitions, Auctions, Beijing, China, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Critic, Curators, Fairs, Galleries, Globalisation, Hong Kong, Individual, Korean, Market watch, Recession, Singapore | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Art fair Shanghai breaks new ground with Best of Discovery emerging artists – Financial Times, Artkrush

Posted by artradar on September 14, 2008


 

Tushar Joag 

ART FAIR CHINA EMERGING ARTISTS

“Best of Discovery” is a unique curated section of Shanghai’s premier art fair ShContemporary 08 featuring over 30 selected emerging artists from the Asia Pacific region who are presented to a global audience for the first time. 

In a “ground-breaking move”  ShContemporary founder Rudolf has commissioned a team of  independent curators with knowledge of their given regions to make an informed selection of work by promising younger artists largely unknown on the international stage says the Financial Times.  They have scoured not only China but Australasia, Central Asia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, Taiwan and Thailand.

The works are on display in an open-format, museum-like installation in the grounds of and inside the imposing Soviet-built Shanghai Exhibition Centre, where the ShContemporary fair is held from September 10 to 13 2008.

Selected on merit not gallery affiliation

The pieces have been selected not on gallery affiliation but on merit alone. “In fact” says the Financial Times “half the artists selected had no gallery representation at all. For the purposes of the fair, exhibiting dealers have sponsored these artists, forging temporary relationships that may well continue after the event.”

“Markedly experimental”

The 11 international curators selected a range of “markedly experimental” works says Artkrush. “Pieces by better-known figures such as Beijing’s Wang Luyan – a muscular satirist of consumption and politics – share space with Yael Bartana who employs cultural symbols to unpack political concerns, and from Japan, upstart provocateur Tadasu Takamine – most notorious for his controversial Kimura-san video, which shows the artist helping a disabled friend masturbate – is grouped with his more sedate countryman Sakae Ozawa.”

Intriguing art from Central Asia, Caucasus

The Financial Times notes that “the most intriguing is the work being produced in those regions where creativity has been frozen, corrupted or isolated for decades, even centuries”. Perhaps least known is the art of the new Central Asian republics which first made their debut on the international stage at the Venice Biennale in 2005. To represent Central Asia and the Caucasus, curator Sara Raza has alighted on the work of the outlandish Kazak performance artist Erbossyn Meldibekov and also on the emerging Georgian artist Sophia Tabatadze.

List of Asian artistsCambodia: Sopheap Pich (1969 Cambodia), Central Asia: Sophia Tabatadze (1977 Georgia), Erbossyn Meldibekov (1964 Kazakhstan), China: Wang Luyan (1956 Beijing), Zhu Jinshi (1954 Beijing), Wang Zhiyuan (1958 Tianjin China), Shi Yong (1963 Shanghai), Chen Yenling (1969 China), Taiwan: Effie Wu (1973 Taiwan), Huang Po-Chih (1980 Taiwan), India: Tushar Joag (1966 India), Vibha Galhotra (1978 India), Ved Gupta (1975 India), Sumedh Rajendran (1972 India), Indonesia: Agus Suwage (1959 Indonesia), J Ariadhitya Pramuhendra (1984 Indonesia), Japan: Tadasu Takamine (1968 Japan), Sakae Ozawa (1980 Japan), Hiraki Sawa (1977 Japan), Korea: Jina Park (1974 US works in Korea), Clara Shin (1974 Brazil works in Korea), Jo Jong Sung( 1977 Korea), Thailand: Dearborn K Mendhaka (1979 Thailand), Vietnam: Nguyen Thai Tuan (1965 Vietnam), Israel: Yael Bartana (1970 Israel), Iran: Reza Aramesh (1968 Iran)

List of Asian specialist curators: Erin Gleeson (Cambodia), Sara Raza (Central Asia, Western Asia, Middle East), Huang Du (China), Sean CS Hsu (Taiwan), Deeksha Nath (India), Rikky Effendy (Indonesia), Reiko Tsubaki (Japan), Shin Young Chung (Korea), Sutee Kunavichayanont (Thailand), Din Q Le (Vietnam)

See (in new window)

Posted in China, Chinese, Fairs, Georgian, Indian, Indonesian, Iranian, Israeli, Japanese, Kazakhstani, Korean, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, Taiwanese, Thai | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »