Contemporary Korean painters combine Western and local aesthetics in an exploration of traditional painting styles.
In “Permeated Perspective: Young Korean Painters”, an exhibition that was held at Doosan Gallery in New York City from 17 January to 16 February 2013, traditional Korean painting concepts and techniques that were previously rejected by the country’s younger generations of painters are revived.
Doosan Gallery, a non-profit art gallery with spaces in South Korea and New York City, featured works by five painters in their twenties and thirties who are living and working in South Korea.
The works in “Permeated Perspective” reveal a move by young Korean artists towards exploring their cultural heritage and identity: the paintings in the show reflect landscapes, genre scenes, folk paintings and portraits typically seen in traditional Korean paintings.
On the motivation behind this trend, Jay Jongho Kim, Director of Doosan Gallery in New York City, says,
Even though Korean traditional culture has been disappearing since its Westernisation during the last hundred years, since … national popularity has been rising in [the] global market, the issue of … bridging [the] past and the present has become one of the main concerns of … society.
“Permeated Perspective”: 5 young Korean artists
Kim uses traditional painting techniques and mediums such as ochre tones, Korean ink, line tape on linen and multiple vantage points (page 70, PDF download) to capture the landscapes and interior spaces around her.
Jina Park was born in 1974 in New York. She received a BFA in Painting from Seoul National University and an MFA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. She participated in the 2008 Gwangju Biennale.
Park creates mostly figurative paintings that capture random, mundane moments. According to the press release for the exhibition,
Jina Park’s work recomposes photography into painting. The figures and places in her works capture a random moment from the artist’s daily life. Park denies empathetic connection towards her subject and remains at a certain distance from it, while rejecting mere representation of the subject. Expressing the unstable ego of people today, the same figure is repeatedly portrayed or multiplied in one image as if to auto-reproduce.
Donghyun Son was born in 1980 in Seoul. He received his BFA in Oriental painting from Seoul National University. He was a resident artist at Ssamzie Space Studio and his works have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Abbazia di San Gregorio in Venice and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea.
Many of his subjects are drawn from popular culture icons, comprising anything from super heroes to the Starbucks logo to Michael Jackson, and he depicts them in a traditional style using the five symbolic colours, or ohbangsaek, of Korean arts.
According to a Christie’s description of Son’s works,
Son grew up during a time when television sets were a standard fixture among homes in Korea. It was viewed as an otherworldly medium that held life within itself, shaping the cultural mindset of his generation today. Many of the subjects found in Son’s art are derived from popular cultural icons in television. ‘The American Hero’ series and ‘Ten Longevity Symbols’ are illustrative of how influential [both the] mass-media and popular culture [are] in his artistic practice. Using found imagery from search engines such as Google, Son takes iconic characters from the 1980s, such as those from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a Hollywood animation film and Bambi, a famous character from Disney animation, [and uses them] to emphasise the changes and phenomena occurring in contemporary Korean society.
Noori Lee was born in 1977 in Seoul. He attended Schule für Gestaltung Basel in Basel, Switzerland and Hochschule für bildende Künste in Frankfurt, Germany. He has exhibited worldwide including at Tony Wuethrich Galerie in Basel and Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.
His paintings combine linear, architectural elements with contrasting, expressionistic painterly strokes. As stated in Art Cologne’s “New Positions” April 2011 press release,
Korean artist Noori has a highly distinctive style that melds photorealism, Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism. Lee’s complex, large-format paintings draw on photographs and combine Western and Eastern influences, evoking in his depictions of uninhabited rooms and houses a disturbing, strangely disconcerting atmosphere.
Jinju Lee was born in 1980 in Busan, South Korea, and received her BFA and MFA in Oriental Painting from Hongik University in Seoul. She has exhibited in numerous galleries in Seoul, London and Bergen (Norway), and at the 2008 Busan Biennale.
“Along with her personal narrative, her technique represents the sentiment of contemporary Korea through the delicate and sophisticated traditional brush marks,” says gallery director Kim.
First of many
Doosan Gallery’s New York City space has plans to follow “Permeated Perspective” with a series of exhibitions that introduce emerging Korean art trends to United States’ audiences. Kim says of these future presentations, “The exhibitions [will] show the identity of another nation [and] continue to represent the uniqueness of Korean contemporary art.”
- Korean Artist Project adds 21 curator-select artists to website – resource alert – November 2012 – a virtual art platform displaying over 1500 artworks that is open to the public
- Yeondoo Jung Prix Pictet prize photographs peer into Korean family homes – April 2012 – Jung’s Evergreen Tower deals with the paradox of urban growth
- Emerging Korean artist Rim Lee exhibits new surrealist works in Chicago – March 2012 – young Korean artist Rim Lee’s first solo exhibition
- Korean artists: 4 top posts from 2010 to 2011 – June 2011 – an overview of Art Radar‘s coverage of important new Korean art
- “Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary” exhibition tours London, Singapore, and Seoul – August 2010 – this seminal exhibition reaches a wider audience in its second year
Subscribe to Art Radar for more on contemporary Korean painters