Global recognition for Korean contemporary art? Not quite

KOREA CONTEMPORARY ART ART PROMOTION

According to an article published in The Korea Times at the end of October this year, Korean contemporary art began to make its presence felt on the global art market in 1995. This was the year that the official Korean Pavilion appeared at Venice Biennale and the Gwangju Biennale debuted. The article states that since this time Korean art has been quietly rising through increasing promotion at international art fairs and major art exchanges with Western countries.

Lee Yong-baek's video work 'Angel Soldier' is among the works the artist will exhibit at the Korean Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Image taken from koreatimes.co.kr.

Lee Yong-baek's video work 'Angel Soldier' is among the works the artist will exhibit at the Korean Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Image taken from koreatimes.co.kr.

Promotion of Korean art through fairs and art exchanges

Korean galleries such as Pyo Gallery and Gallery Hyundai attend major Korean and Hong Kong art events and Kukje Gallery returned to Frieze Art Fair this year, where it sold “more than 80 percent of its exhibited artwork.” The article states, by way of further example, that Kukje is also a co-founder of the first-ever online art fair, VIP Art Fair, but we at Art Radar cannot see this gallery listed under founders on VIP’s website. Gallery Hyundai, however, is listed.

Recent major collaborations between prestigious overseas museums have meant high-profile exhibitions are now landing on Korean shores. An example cited in the article is the “Picasso and Modern Art: Passion and Solitude” exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Deoksugung, which is the result of a collaboration between this venue and Albertina Museum in Vienna.

We would also like to highlight the influential “Korean Eye” exhibitions. Though not mentioned in this article, “Korean Eye” did tour London (hosted by no-less-than Saatchi Gallery), Singapore and Seoul this year and has plans for expansion in 2011 and 2012.

The Deoksugung annex of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea was opened in In 1998. Image taken from moca.go.kr.

The Deoksugung annex of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea was opened in In 1998. Image taken from moca.go.kr.

International travel important for Korean art promotion

These kinds of exchanges are being facilitated by the increased international travel of Korean art museum heads to the U.S. and Europe. Says Park Soo-jin, a MOCA curator for “Picasso and Modern Art”, to The Korean Times, “‘More than being a local establishment that just holds up the title of national art museum, we’re making a lot of effort to really step up to that role.'” Jung Me, a Berlin-based but Korean-born independent curator mentioned by the Times, is bringing a collaborative group show to the Aram Nuri Arts Centre in Goyang. Jung says in the article, “‘Unexpectedly there are a lot of German artists who have an interest in Korean contemporary art. So there was no need to explain anything about Korea.'”

Global recognition for Korean contemporary art? Not yet

Curator Tobias Berger, who is currently working for the Korean-based Nam June Paik Art Centre, said in an interview with Art Radar earlier this year that there is a lack of information in English on Korean contemporary art activities. This statement is reflected in this Korea Times article where Jung is quoted as saying that “there is no strategic infrastructure in which Korean artists and curators can build a base for international activities…. Even the global network that Korean-born curators have is extremely thin. It’s difficult for Korean artists to be invited to major international exhibitions because of a lack of information.”

Click here to read the full article which was published in The Korea Times in October.

KN

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Global recognition for Korean contemporary art? Not quite — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Interlineal » Blog Archive » Meat and Marginalia for the week (19-25 Dec 2010)

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