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Posts Tagged ‘Korean sculpture’

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 »

Debbie Han first Korean artist to be awarded Sovereign Asian Art Prize

Posted by artradar on May 10, 2010


KOREAN ART ASIAN ART PRIZE

Art Radar Asia is pleased to bring you an article by guest contributor, Kate Bryan. Her article, Hybrid Graces, presents an in depth insight into the work of Debbie Han, the first Korean artist to be awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Han’s work is a useful starting point for exploring the status of contemporary art and culture in Korea today.

A Sovereign Winner

Earlier this year Debbie Han became the first Korean artist to be awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the biggest accolade of its kind in the region. The presentation of the award to Han can be seen in the context of a shift away from Korean art as an enigmatic, closed world to a thriving, open and accessible contemporary art market. That said, Korean artists are yet to penetrate mainstream consciousness, but if the quality of the work being produced by Han is anything to go by, it will not be long until they do.

Seated Three Graces

Han was awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize for Seated Three Graces, which subsequently entered the hallowed Sovereign Art Collection. The work is part of the Graces series which combine the typical body of a Korean woman with the face of an idealised Greek sculpture.

 

 

Debbie Han, Seated Three Graces

Debbie Han, Seated Three Graces

 

The composite form is painstakingly digitally rendered to look like marble, pixel by pixel for optimum realism. Subverting the practice of figurative sculpture and portrait photography, Han navigates the boundaries between illusion and reality and between western standards of ideal beauty and the reality of contemporary Asian women. Beyond the scrupulous technique and unexpected crossbreed form, the viewer is quickly drawn into the debate which Han instigates. “Beauty is a cultural conception and has long pervaded art history, what can be a better of way of understanding a given culture than through navigating this phenomenon?” Central to Han’s work is an enduring interest in how human experience is shaped and conditioned by contemporary culture, and as such the Graces series provides a sharp insight into the specifics of the world in which they were created.

A Korean artist?

Han’s interest in culturalisation makes her practice a useful starting point for a look at the developing status of both the contemporary Korean art market and Korean culture in the twenty first century more widely. That said, Han is actually an atypical Korean artist; in fact she resists the generalised label strongly. Han emigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child and went on to complete her art major at the University of California and her MA at the Pratt Institute in New York. Having begun her career in the U.S., she returned to Korea only in 2003 for an artist residency programme. Han was a stranger to Seoul and her unique perspective as a culturally disembodied artist propelled her to document what was happening in Korea and in Asia more widely. “I had a strong desire to interrogate what my Asian identity was and became overwhelmed by the inherent westernisation at all levels in both society and art.” Despite the ‘identity crisis’ that sparked her profound creative journey of the last decade, Han could not be described as an unsure woman. She is a strong intellect with a mind that constantly questions the world around her.

The Beauty Myth

Han was effectively an ‘outsider’ to the art world when she returned to Seoul and it is this objectivity that lends her work such strength. As an American-Korean woman navigating the city, Han was immediately struck by the forcefulness of the western beauty mantra. Korean women were spending billions on cosmetics and plastic surgery to conform to an ‘ideal’ type of beauty, specifically a eurocentric beauty. “The perversity of the situation became clear to me when I learnt that women would have cosmetic surgery to make their eyes more western before their first job interview, it was a new rite of passage.” More than 60% of women in Korea have undergone cosmetic surgery and the numbers are on the increase. The act is no longer a choice made by a liberated individual, but a survival tactic. A telling indication of the seriousness of the situation is found in language – the term for having your face done in Korea is literally ‘face correction.’

Sensation with Content

Navigating what the polemic feminist author Naomi Wolf described as ‘beauty myths’, is characteristic of an artist whose raison d’être is to understand the world around her and present complex issues to the viewer in order to raise debate. Han’s work has always been characterised by the dual forces of painstaking, diverse craftsmanship and pieces which demand attention, cause shock or surprise the viewer. These tactics are combined to address questions of personal identity and larger social patterns. An early example is the Hard Condom Series (2001-2003) where small bronzes take the form of soiled condoms, an object which arouses great discomfort. Han therefore interrogates the complexities of society’s reaction to something as innate as sex.

 

 

 

Debbie Han, Hard Condom Series (2001-2003)

Debbie Han, Hard Condom Series (2001-2003)

 

Han’s work is certainly conceptual, but is in many ways a direct rebuttal of the earlier conceptual artists she encountered as a student. “For me, ideas will always be important and central to my work. You cannot create things just to cause a sensation, they have to have content. But on the other hand when I first saw conceptual pieces at college I was disappointed that they were not visually compelling or creatively unique.” Han bridges this gap between ideas and form, producing works that make us stop in our tracks for one reason or another, marvel at the craftsmanship and then engage with the issue at hand.

Beauty as Sport

In 2008 the artist created a departure in her practice by beginning to employ Korean lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl, a technique which demands over 20 processes to produce one work. Employing a medium which dates back thousands of years, Han’s challenge was to incorporate Korean inlaid lacquer into the contemporary arena, not only lending it a new relevance but having it underscore her subject matter. Sports Venus I is testament to the great success of the project. The life size lacquer bust is a rich dark brown, completely at odds with the classical white Venus.

 

 

Debbie Han, Sports Venus I, lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl

Debbie Han, Sports Venus I, lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl

 

As she puts it, “the reference to ancient Asian culture almost takes over, preventing a traditional appreciation of the classical Venus.” More startling still is the mother of pearl inlay which forms the pattern of a modern football, like an aggressive tattoo, across the face. Venus has entered the arena of sports, making explicit reference to the notion of ideal beauty as a new form of sports entertainment.  Han draws attention to the futility of the ideal beauty dogma, “it is just a game – in reality no one can conform to something which is a fabrication, an illusion.”

Food and Sensuality

The illusory nature of ideal beauty is deconstructed in a global series which Han has been working on since 2005. In Food and Sensuality Han collaborates with a regular woman from a given country, refashioning her into a model garnished with food from the culture in which she lives.

 

 

Debbie Han Food and Sensuality

Debbie Han, Food and Sensuality (since 2005)

 

In choosing non-professional models, Han unravels the myths about unattainable beauty by arguing that “any woman can look like a beautiful seductress given the right tools. As an artist I work to bring out to the outmost degree the unique beauty and style in each woman.” Her point is not about the benefits of a good makeover, but more about the breaking down persuasive myths and presenting a new reality. The combination of food – which is often draped over the woman to resemble clothing or jewellery – and female beauty makes explicit reference to the long held advertising mandate that sex sells. Further, in the face of a globalised world, Han rejects the homogeny of culture by identifying its distinctiveness, “food is like language, every culture has their own version and proudly supports it. This is at odds with our notions of beauty. The photographs aim to readdress the balance.”

A New Era

In all of her work Han champions the re-unification of concept and technique. Her philosophy and quest to understand the constructs of the human condition are deeply entrenched in her practice, but she does not allow herself to fall victim to her intellect. Moving between mediums – and never choosing a simple process – Han’s work demands attention not just for its subject matter but for its craftsmanship and distinct visual appeal. Han believes we are entering a new era, a movement without a name, “art must not any longer end with a concept. When I returned to Seoul I saw very thought provoking work in the context of a rapidly changing city, but I wanted to know where the form had gone.” The gravity of the themes in her work coupled with her exquisite dedication to mastering mediums makes Han a worthy prize winner, and for an audience new to Korean contemporary art, a fascinating starting point.

Kate Bryan is a contributing Editor for Asian art News, World Sculptures News and her work has been published in Kee Magazine, The Sentinel, Essence and West East. She received her BA in Fine Art from Warwick University and subsequently worked at the British Museum in London for four years. She recently completed her master’s degree at the University of Hong Kong and is the Deputy Director of The Cat Street Gallery.

Editorial disclaimer – The opinions and views expressed by guest writers  do not necessarily reflect those of Art Radar Asia, staff, sponsors and partners.
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Posted in American, Body, Debbie Han, Eyes, Female form, Food, Human Body, Kate Bryan, Korean, Lacquer, Mythical figures, Photography, Prizes, Sculpture, Sport | 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

Posted in Curators, Korean, Museum shows, Sand, Sculpture, Singapore, Surveys | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »