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Posts Tagged ‘Korean contemporary art’

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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First Hong Kong solo for Korean sculptor artist Lee Jae-Hyo

Posted by artradar on July 21, 2010


HONG KONG KOREAN SCULPTURE ART EXHIBITIONS

Work by internationally renowned Korean sculptor, Lee Jae-Hyo, will soon be on show in Hong Kong for the first time. In a new exhibition, “From the Third Hand of the Creator”, to be held at Hong Kong’s Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery from 31 July until 20 August this year, the gallery will present thirty pieces of representative works from Lee Jae-Hyo, including work from his “Wood” and “Nail” series.

Lee Jae-Hyo

Born in Hapchen, South Korea, in 1965, Lee Jae-Hyo graduated from Hong-ik University with a Bachelor degree in Plastic Art. Working with wood, nails, steel and stone as his primary media, Lee focuses his attention on exploring nature’s structural construction. The works are made from a process consisting of dedicated design and complex composing, sculpturing, grinding and refining. The wood pieces are assembled into curves, with which various futurist forms in hyper-modernist style are drawn. Each piece is still embroidered with growth rings. His method has been applauded for exuding a strong personal character and opening up a distinctive direction within contemporary Korean art.

New York-based art writer Jonathan Goodman describes the artist’s work in Sculpture Magazine:

Allowing the materials to speak to him, he builds self-contained worlds that mysteriously communicate with their outer surroundings. One of his most striking images is a photograph of a boat-like structure placed in the midst of a stream whose banks are covered with trees. Clearly a manmade sculpture put out into nature, the work contrasts with and succumbs to its surroundings. In the photograph, self-sufficiency is enhanced by the object’s position in a beautiful scene; the poetics of the sculpture lean on an environment that frames its polished surfaces, conferring a further dignity on a form in keeping with its forested setting.

Lee’s works are created through the assembly of a large number of units of the ingredient, and therefore become the respective images of the individual units. In their overall structures and forms, minimalist geometric lines can be found, rich in hyper-modernist imagination.

Lee’s art is built upon a typical oriental spirit – in the pursuit of unity and a harmonious co-existence between him and the universe, Lee attempts to demonstrate how humanity can continue to develop civilization with grace, on the basis of a mutual respect between the man-made and natural worlds.

Lee Jae-Hyo

Lee Jae-Hyo has exhibited widely: in Korea, Japan, China, the United Kingdom and the United States. He has won many awards, including the Grand Prize of Osaka Triennial (1998), Young Artist of the Day, presented by the Ministry of Culture of Korea (1998) and the Prize of Excellence in the 2008 Olympic Landscape Sculpture Contest. His artwork is collected by a number of prominent Asian, European, American and Pacific museums, hotels and universities.

From the Third Hand of the Creator” will be on show at Hong Kong’s Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery from 31 July until 20 August this year.

JAS/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Korean artists, sculpture, gallery shows

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Posted in Art spaces, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, International, Korean, Nature, Sculpture, Utopian art, Venues, Wood | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Korean National Museum of Contemporary Art Young Korean Artists retrospective spans 30 years

Posted by artradar on May 16, 2010


It is now 30 years since the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Korea, held its first Young Korean Artists exhibition. The exhibition, founded in 1981, quickly became a fundamental one within Korea and around the world, renowned for recognizing and exposing local artistic talent.

Kim, Ho-Suk, (Hwang, Hee), 1988

Kim, Ho-Suk, (Hwang, Hee), 1988

An instrumental exhibition

The Young Korean Artists exhibition (renamed New Talent Exhibition in 1990) is the museum’s oldest and most representative show, known for recognizing many of Korea’s most internationally renowned artists. This year’s exhibition, the 30th Anniversary of the Young Artists exhibition, will showcase original works by participants in the first 1981 show, as well as works spanning the following thirty years. There are 327 invited participants, many of them still “young” while others, particularly artists from the first shows, are now in their 50s and 60s.

Suh, Do-Ho, Staircase, 2009

Suh, Do-Ho, Staircase, 2009

Thirty years of contemporary Korean artists

200 works from a variety of mediums – painting, photography, sculpture, video and installation – will be represented here. The space has been divided into two sections: Young Korean Artists, spanning the 1980s to 1990s, and New Talent Exhibition, focusing on works produced in the 1990s to now.

Among the artists represented in the exhibition Bohn-Chang Koo, Do-Ho Suh, Bul Lee and Choi-Jeong Hwa enjoy international recognition, while five others, Ho-Suk Kim, Sang-Kyoon Noh, Yeong-Bae Lee, Hyun Chung and Yong-Sun Suh, have been named Artist of the Year by the National Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Koo, Bohn-Chang, In the Beginning, 1994

Koo, Bohn-Chang, In the Beginning, 1994

Exhibition a gateway for the new

While primarily a retrospective historical art event, this exhibition is also being used by the museum as a launching pad for New Tides, a future exhibition aimed at discovering and exposing up and coming artists.

The 30th Anniversary of the Young Korean Artists Exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, closes on 6 June, 2010.

KN/KCE

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Art about curators: Korean artist Yang Ah Ham’s No Nonsense solo show

Posted by artradar on April 13, 2010


"Out of Frame"
“Out of Frame” video still

 Courtesy the Artsonje Centre

 KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

 

Netherlands-based Korean artist Yang Ah Ham turns her focus on the art world itself.

In her work “‘Chocolate Head” , a series of head sculptures of famous curators around the world, the art world becomes an unusual subject  in her multimedia solo show “Adjective Life in the Nonsense Factory” at Art Sonje Center in Korea in March – April 2010.

Her works which focus on the individual are defined, she says, by adjectives, rather than verbs or nouns.

As a companion piece to Ham’s melted chocolate sculptures, she has also produced a video called “Out of Frame” which captures performance art based around the chocolate heads. This series of works examines power and the tension it creates.

Another piece “Collected Anonymous 2006-2007,” features a collection of elastic hair bands that Ham found in the streets of Amsterdam. She brought them back to Korea and conducted DNA tests, even though there was little way of finding out whom the hair bands belonged to.

Read more: KoreaTimes.co.kr

Get info: Artsonje.org

See videos: InsaArtSpace.or.kr

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Posted in Events, Food, Fragile art, Human Body, Identity art, Korea, Korean, Performance, Sculpture, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Korean artist Kim Joon discusses tattoos, taboos and his inspiration – interview

Posted by artradar on December 2, 2009


KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

The powerful works by Kim Joon depicting intriguingly ‘tattooed’ bodies beg for context. However, to more deeply understand Joon’s meditation on the meaning of tattoo as a social phenomenon and uniquely human act, a viewer must first appreciate the man and his personal experience. Kim Joon, born in 1966 in Seoul, has walked many paths in life: he is a renowned contemporary artist, a professor at Kongju National University in Korea, and is a former soldier in the Korean military.

Recently Joon has established a growing presence in the international art scene, gaining exposure in London at this year’s highly successful Korean Eye show, and in October 2009 his ‘Birdland-Armani’ piece was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for almost twice its estimated price, selling for approximately $17,560 USD. Art Radar catches up with Joon before the opening of his ‘Tattoo and Taboo’ exhibition, which runs from November 18th-Dec 13th at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Hong Kong, to discuss his fascination with tattoos, his surprising journey to finding inspiration, and the Korean art scene.

Note: Kim Joon’s comments were directly translated by Ms. Inhee Iris Moon, an independent curator based in New York, with whom he has worked extensively. Any references of Joon appearing to speak in the third person are attributed to this. Interview by Erin Wooters.

Kim Joon, Bird Land - Chrysler, 2008, digital print, 120 x 210 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Where did you grow up and where were you educated? Were there major influences or people in your life pushing you toward or discouraging you from the arts?

Joon: He was born and raised in Seoul, and attended Hongik University, a well known school for art education. No one encouraged him to enter the arts, in fact his father was very opposed to him becoming an artist.

When did you first start creating art?

Joon: He started creating art in college. Generally he doodled as a child, but did not consider becoming a serious artist until he was attending university and studying art.

In which countries and cities do you spend most of your time?

Joon: Korea and Seoul

Do you have a deep connection to places or cultures outside Korea?

Joon: Although he was born and raised in Korea and really never spent time outside of Seoul, he has and maintains a close connection to Western culture through AFKN, which is an English radio program. It is produced by the U.S. military—it is a military station. He was deeply influenced by the things that he heard from radio… Also through entertainment, such as movies and rock music. He has built his connections to the outside world through media culture.

Kim Joon, Cradle Song - Ferragamo, 2009, digital print, 160 x 80 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Do you have any any tattoos, and if so did you get them before or after joining the military?

Joon: Just one. I got it after joining the military.

Which artists do you admire?

Joon: More musicians than artists, actually. Jimi Hendrix is my hero, my personal god.

Which artists do you personally collect?

Joon: Young Korean contemporary artists, like Joonsung Bae.

When did you first become interested in the idea of tattoos?

Joon: I developed a very strong interest in it when I was in the army. But it was during college days that I first started working with the notion of tattoos.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not making art?

Joon: Listen to music, watch movies, and play with my daughter. She is 4.

Regarding your images, how do you create them?

Joon: First he uses 3-D animation software to create the body or bodies he wants, and he constructs them. Then after building the 3 dimensional body, he works to get the image he really desires. Then, he grafts on the type of skin he desires—it could be animal skin, artificial skin, human skin. It could be skin of a leather bag or skin of a shoe. Any kind of texture- it could be a hard baseball. He uses this surface skin and grafts it onto the 3 dimensional image he created. This computer program is called 3-D Studio Max. It is the program used to create Shrek and other 3D animation films.

So there is never any physical painting of models involved?

Joon: No.

How and why do you choose which gender and body type to use in the images? Is there a significance in your preference of male and female models?

Joon: He likes both, he is neutral. However, he has a strong admiration for black bodies. The ebony series represents his desire for a perfect black male body.

I notice in your previous work you sometimes use male models with less muscle tone. Is there a reason for this?

Joon: It could be the images with less muscle tone are the body types of Asian men, which are different from highly idealized perfected bodies.

Are the images intended to be at all sexual?

Joon: Because he is working with bodies, especially nude and highly idealized bodies, it became that way. However, he hasn’t intentionally created erotic images. The images in former series were not erotic bodies, they are more real bodies. As the work developed it became more sensual.

Some of your works include tattoos of logos. What is the significance of this, and how do you choose the company logos?

Joon: The selection of logos is pretty random, but the process involves digging out the pre-inscribed images that are embedded in his own mind. As a result, it could be any random logo. Of course he doesn’t have a special contract with any company. However, he tries to use logos that are really well known, that are universal and that everyone will recognize.

What special meaning does tattooing have to you?

Joon: There are two ways to identify his way of using tattoos. One is to express things that he cannot really negate. The other one is something that you really want to do but cannot do… It expresses things that cannot be erased, because tattoos are an inscription, a kind of mark that cannot be erased because it is a scar.

Is your work an expression of physical or spiritual beauty? Inner beauty or outer beauty?

Joon: You are absolutely right in saying that tattoo or tattooing is beyond the physical beauty because it encompasses the realm of repression and desire and beauty and scar. It is the doer side of tattoo and tattooing that he is much more interested. The process of tattooing itself is very painful, and the outcome could be very beautiful or ugly. You don’t know, but the willingness that goes into it is very spiritual.

Kim Joon, We - BMW, 2005, 190 x 120 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Are these images also implying a group membership?

Joon: The ‘We’ series that he developed from 2005, with Starbucks and BMW, were the beginning of the idea of group consciousness. The Birdland series goes even deeper into that because it is a group of people all interlocked together becoming almost indistinguishable. It moves as a group consciousness.

What collective reality are the tattoos revealing?

Joon: In history, anthropologists will tell you that tattoos were used for different kinds of purposes. Sometimes they were used to define boundaries, or to have your own social groups. Then at other times it was to punish somebody in a negative sense, to reject you. There is a notion of acceptance and rejection- a sense of belongingness and non-belongingness. The tattoo or tattooing doesn’t have just one singular meaning, but has multiple meanings, and conflicting meanings.

Why do you want to explore things that are taboo, or feared by society?

Joon: I am intuitively very attracted to that, exploring the reasons behind our ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. Because, they can be changed, too.

How common are tattoos in Korea?

Joon: There is still a lot of resistance to tattooing in Korea. It is still illegal to have tattoos done in tattoo parlors, but the tendancy now is that a lot of people forgive, or have aetheticians perform this kind of thing.

Is it difficult to find an underground tattoo parlor in Korea?

Joon: There are many of them, but it is just not legal. There is like a cult of these groups, but they are not officially approved by the government.

What is your view on the Korean military’s stance of tattoos on soldiers?

Joon: It is not allowed in the army or military situation. Actually, if you do have a large amount of tattoos on your body you cannot even be in military service. The regular duration for men to serve in the Korean military is 3 years—that is the official army service that men have to observe. But there is this other type of service that comprises all the rejects from the regular service. These are people who might not have good eyesight or fall into a lower category of body weight, and also people who have tattoos covering large parts of their body. Joon was actually part of that army, not the official one. This is where he encountered friends…

So you found acceptance among a group of people with tattoos?

Joon: Yes, right.

Is there a certain amount of tattoos a man must have to be rejected from regular military service?

Joon: At the time there was really no strict rule of how much tattoo you must have to go to the second tier army. There were people with some kind of tattoo, physical disfunctions, or some kind of lack. It is a place the secondary male citizens went.

So, in the military tattoos were considered a physical disfunction?

Joon: The people he saw with tattoos were rejects, but were not rejected because of bodily disfunction, but because of attitude disfunction. He was surprised because he always regarded tattoo as an artistic form, but the people who had the tattoos were regarded as some kind of deviant or reject. The conflict actually lead him to explore more about tattooing, and inspired him to use that as his subject matter.

How did you first begin marketing your work?

Joon: Naturally through all kinds of exhibitions.

Kim Joon, Stay - Warhol, 2007, c-print, 87 x 150 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

When and how did you become represented by Sundaram Tagore?

Joon: I was invited to a mini solo show with the gallery as part of the official program of Asian Contemporary Art Week, held in spring 2009.

Who are your major collectors? What nationality?

Joon: I am not quite sure who they are, but I do have many collectors in Europe and America (New York).

How long does it take to produce an artwork?

Joon: It differs from time to time, but anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months.

What kind of space do you work in?

Joon: I have a studio in Seoul and Gong Ju.

What shows do you have planned next?

Joon: I am showing with Sundaram at Art Asia Art Fair in December 2009 during Art Miami Basel week and I have a solo exhibition coming up in March at ST’s Beverly Hills gallery.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists about becoming successful in the art world?

Joon: I am not sure if I am in a position to give advice, but I usually say to my students and younger artists that one must have sincerity in order to succeed in anything. Giving sincerest thoughts and effort maybe a long and painful process but a necessary one.

How has the contemporary Korean art scene changed since you began working with it?

Joon: Korean art used be more or less conforming to a dominant style when I first started to work as an artist. For example, Minjoong misul [mass art] and abstraction were the two most dominant styles while I was an art student and virtually everyone was doing things in one of the two styles. However, contemporary art has become much more diversified. Artists are not afraid of expressing individual ideas and having their own style.

Kim Joon, Neverland, 2009, digital print, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Which Korean institutions and galleries do you admire and recommend to art lovers?

Joon: The Han Mi Museum of Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, Duk Soo Palace branch. In terms of exciting galleries, PKM, Kukje and Hakgoje galleries in Seoul are recommendable.

How did the Korean Eye show in London affect your career? Do you find more interest in Korean art at home or abroad?

Joon: I feel that more people in England know about my work, and that’s a great thing for an artist. Other than that I do not feel much change in my career – yet that is. I think we need to allow more time for people to absorb what they saw.

What role do you think contemporary art plays in society? Does it play a special or unique role in Korea?

Joon: Art provides new experiences to people, making people think within a different realm.. It provides new angles and perspectives to think about and view things. This is a very important role of art… I think the artworks in Korea that are made in Korea manifest the multiple realities of Korea much better or closer to the existing condition. However loosely defined that term “Korean Style” may be, I think their works seem to reflect “it” better because their comments and expressions are close rumination of their experiences (that have great affinities with mine).

What is your philosophy as an artist? Why create art?

Joon: My philosophy is to enjoy whatever it is that you do. One of the few things that can be done without having to worry about other people’s intervention is creating art. The ability to excercise this kind of independence and freedom is an utmost privilege. I enjoy this aspect of my work very much.

Are there any causes you would like your art to support or raise awareness of?

Joon: I want people to recognize and understand tattoo as my visual language which is synonymous to pain, complexity, desire, responsibility, fate, the past, memory, hope, inscription, compulsion, coercion, duress and constraint, etc. And I want people to be able to use tattoo to reflect their own realities.

What are you trying to achieve or communicate through your art?

Joon: I would like people to be able to think about their own tattoos and re-examine their lives through seeing my work. Tattoo or tatooing symbolizes the multi-layered composites of desire and will, emotion and action, pain and pleasure of self and other (tattooist) which can be translated as a complex system of complicit activities. This is much like the way in which our lives are conducted in the larger social matrix. I want people to be able to feel the tension between human (in)ability to control desires and situations. That we have less control than we think in defying forces in capital driven society.

What has been your biggest challenge in art?

Joon: Physical conditions- I work long hours in front of computers and that is really bad for my neck and back. I have been suffering from serious disc problems and am trying to manage that.

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Korean Eye exhibition in Saatchi Gallery London extended due to popularity

Posted by artradar on August 12, 2009


KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

There is perhaps no greater indicator of changing tastes in London’s contemporary art scene and the West’s hunger for fresh cultural and artistic influences than the masses of people who came to witness the ‘Korean Eye: Moon Generation’ Exhibition, which showcases the finest contemporary Korean art at the renowned Saatchi Gallery in London. In fact, over 40,000 gallery-going visitors

Kim Joon, Bird-land Donald Duck, 2008.  From Korean Eye, Moon Generation. On view at Saatchi Gallery, London.

Kim Joon, Bird-land Donald Duck, 2008. From Korean Eye, Moon Generation. On view at Saatchi Gallery, London.

came to experience contemporary Korean art in just 2 weeks. The Saatchi Gallery originally planned to host the Exhibition from June 20th-July 5th, but the unexpected crowds inspired Charles Saatchi to request the exhibit continue until September 13.

‘Korean Eye’ is a groundbreaking show for Korean contemporary artists, who have had very little prior exposure in London and the West.

Of the choice to extend the show, Simon de Pury, Chairman of Phillips de Pury and Company, comments: “The interest in Korean Eye has been so great that we felt the Exhibition must be extended. Korean contemporary art is not that well known in Europe and it is a privilege to host such original and exciting work.”

Among the honored guests at the exhibition’s London opening on July 2 were Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Sir David Tang, the founder of Hong Kong’s China Club and its acclaimed art collection. Cherie Blair was no doubt one of London’s art enthusiasts who discovered the richness of contemporary Korean art that evening, saying, “I didn’t realise that Korea had such a thriving modern art industry but this exhibition is extraordinary. The breadth of the works is fantastic and it has been a real privilege to meet some of the artists and view the works first hand.”

The show’s curator, 35 year old Lee Dae-hyung, came up with the idea for the show last March, and secured sponsorship and support from David Ciclitira, president of Parallel Media Group, the auction firm Phillips de Pury & Company, and Standard Chartered Bank. Lee is the head of the curating company Hzone, and has been promoting Korean artists in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Beijing for the past 8 years. His next exhibitions include a showcase of experimental furniture designs titled ‘Mad for Furniture’, and the December exhibition ‘Korea Tomorrow’, both to be held in Seoul.

I Miss You, by Jang Seung-hyo

I Miss You, by Jang Seung-hyo

The show’s popularity and enthusiastic London reception indicate a bright future for Korean contemporary artists on the Western and international scene, and suggest a new trend of Western fascination with Korean influence. Art enthusiasts, be aware: contemporary Korean art is certainly something to watch.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

    • Red River Flowing With Flowers Flame, by Kwon Ki-soo
  • Red River Flowing With Flowers Flame, by Kwon Ki-soo

Related links:

  • The Saatchi Gallery
  • Local Curator Brings Korean Art to Britain–JoongAng Daily–July 09
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    Posted in Business of art, David Ciclitira, Events, Galleries, Gallery shows, Korean, London, Saatchi, UK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Collector Ciclitira, founder of Korean Eye, makes big plans for Korean art

    Posted by artradar on June 30, 2009


    KOREAN ART

    If you have an interest in Korean contemporary art, be sure to make time for the latest 20 minute podcast from Arttactic, a London-based research house.

    In it, British collector and sports promoter David Ciclitira, together with Rodman Primack, Phillip de Pury’s London chairman, discuss Korean Eye, a multi-year initiative founded by Ciclitira which aims to promote Korean contemporary art to a Western and ultimately international audience.

    Hyung Koo Kang, Woman, 2009

    Hyung Koo Kang, Woman, 2009

    Korean Eye is holding its first 31 artist exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery in London until 5 July 2009 and the exhibition catalogue is available online. “This space in London is the iconic space right now, it has three to four thousand people a day going through the space in 20 days, so we’ll have 60 to 80 thousand people coming through, so that will be good” says Ciclitira in an interview with Art Market Monitor.

    None of it’s from my collection. It’s all brand new. It’s all for sale. I’ve built up a collection of Korean contemporary art in the last two or three years. But I asked a young curator to put the show together, so it’s his choice of artists. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but when you hire a curator, you let them do it.

    Later Ciclitira plans to bring a larger Korean Eye-branded show to other ‘markets’  including perhaps Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.

    Seung WookSim, black mutated ornamentation 2007, hot glue on steel frame

    Seung Wook Sim, black mutated ornamentation 2007, hot glue on steel frame

    ‘The Korean Eye’ initiative is interesting on several fronts:

    1. Bringing Korean art to the West

    Korean contemporary art has, as yet, had little exposure in the West.

    Chinese and Japanese contemporary art have already received academic and critical attention from universities and museums in Western cultures. However unlike Japanese art which has experienced long international exposure and Chinese art which has strong national support from economic growth, Korean art is in the shadows. note 1

    Ciclitira points out in the podcast that although show catalogues produced in Korea are of a high quality, there is not yet a bilingual book on Korean contemporary art, a gap which ‘Korean Eye’ plans to address in the next 18 months.

    Koreans have a 25 year history of collecting Western artists but support for local artists is burgeoning. There has been a growth spurt in the number of Korean galleries in the last 2-3 years and artists are not harnessed to individual galleries. The resulting competitive environment created keen pricing even before the recession. Now the recession is stimulating further discounts. Korean galleries are present at Asian art fairs and have set up galleries across Asia but are still rare further west.

    Park Seung Mo, Contrabass

    Park Seung Mo, Contrabass

    2. Bank sponsorship money can still be found …in Asia

    Funds available from bank sponsorship have been thin on the ground since the Lehman collapse in autumn 2008. While the Hong Kong Art Fair ’09 failed to find a replacement sponsor for Lehman, Ciclitira has had better luck:

    I’ve been very fortunate to be sponsored by Standard Chartered. That’s not a bank known to many American people. It’s now Britain’s second-largest bank. It was the only bank that didn’t invest in subprime. It’s in 108 markets around the world. It’s highly profitable. It’s basically a Hong Kong-based business. But it’s the largest single foreign investor in Korea. They bought a major bank there, and it’s a really super bank which supports, locally, art. That’s one of the things that they do. And they’ve been really, really supportive of this project. I have been amazed how much traction we’ve gotten from their involvement. So in this time of recession, they’ve been very helpful and we hopefully get to work together with them in the future to build it in other markets.

    3. Branded selling exhibitions – a new style of show

    Finally ‘Korean Eye’ represents a new style of branded selling exhibition which brings together a collector’s passion, government support, bank sponsorship and auction house sales expertise.

    Somewhat like Saatchi, Ciclitira has a background as a professional promoter and an ongoing passion for art. But whereas Saatchi has chosen to exhibit his own self-curated non-selling shows, Ciclitira makes no bones about his plans to develop ‘Korean Eye’ as a brand of selling shows. While he admits to having experienced a steep learning curve:

    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.

    David-Ciclitira-330x449

    Collectors who, in the later stages of the their collecting career, want to be involved with supporting the evolution of art, come from backgrounds of all kinds. It will be fascinating to watch what kind of influence this sports promoter will bring to the democratisation of art through branding and media involvement.

    I worked a long time with UBS, and I have access to all their research, and their research, number one for their clients was golf. Art came in third, I think, classic cars or wine were second. The reality is, it’s out there. I believe the art market goes beyond your top bracket. My people all started saying, “The chairman’s crazy, he’s going to do this,” and they’ve all ended up loving it. “Can I get my bonus in a piece of work?”

    The problem with the art world is that they’re a bunch of snobs. The reality is that gallerists make people feel as if they’re not wanted, and I think this is part of the breaking down of what will happen in the next 10 years, more people will want to get involved.

    It sounds like Ciclitira is a man with a mission to make that happen.

    Note 1 Korean Eye Moon Generation catalogue Page 9, Joon Lee Deputy Director Samsung Museum of Art

    Artists

    Ayoung Kim, Bahk SeonGhi, Boomoon, Cho Hoon, Choi TaeHoon, Choo JongWan, Debbie Han, Han KiChang, Hong KyongTack, Jang SeungHyo, Jeon Junho, Kang Hyung Koo, Kim Inbai, Kim Joon, Koh MyungKeun, Kwon KiSoo, Lee Dongwook, Lee HyungKoo, Lee LeeNam, Lee Rim, Lee Ufan. Lee Yong Baek, Lee YongDeok. Park JungHyuk, Park SeungMo, Park SungTae, SeungMin Lee, Sim SeungWook, Whang Inkie, Yi HwanKwon, Yoon Jong Seok

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    Posted in Asia expands, Corporate collectors, David Ciclitira, Democratisation of art, Galleries, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, Korean, London, Overviews, Saatchi, Yi Hwan-Kwon | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    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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    Ravenel Art announces first Hong Kong auction of modern and contemporary art

    Posted by artradar on November 16, 2008


    Hino Korehiko My Elegance

    Hino Korehiko My Elegance

     

    AUCTION NEWS HONG KONG

    In a move which supports the growing status of Hong Kong as Asia’s art market hub, Taiwanese auction house Ravenel Art announces its first Hong Kong auction of Contemporary and Modern Asian Art on Monday December 1, 2008.

    Categories include:
    In Modern Chinese Art  works by Sanyu, Zao Wou-ki and Chu Teh-chun will be offered. In the Chinese Contemporary section important works by Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Guangyi, Yue Minjun and Yan Pei Ming will come under the hammer.

    Ravenel Art will also include works by Korean, Japanese, S. E. Asian and Indian artists. Kim Tschang-yeul and Park Seo-Bo, two of the most important Korean artists will be represented. Paintings by Japanese artists Hino Korehiko and Hiroyuki Matsuura are sure to attract much attention. The S. E. Asian section will include works by Agus Suwage and Budi Kustarto, two of the most sought after artists at the moment. A work by Justin Ponmany, one of the leading Indian contemporary artists will also be on offer.

    Zhang Xiaotao Picture of Early Spring

    Zhang Xiaotao Picture of Early Spring

    The auction will be held in the Four Seasons Hotel Ballroom, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong on Monday December 1.

    Ravenel Art was founded in 1999 and it holds two annual Spring and Autumn auctions in Taipei and will hold Spring and Autumn auctions in Hong Kong. It specializes in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art, Korean, Japanese, S. E. Asian and Indian Contemporary Art. The company has offices in Taipei, Hong Kong and Beijing.

    Click for more Asian auction news, stories about art market globalisation,

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    Posted in Auctions, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Market watch, Southeast Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »