In contempo years, the Dansaekhwa movement in Korea has been accepting a moment, to say the least. The abstruse painting convenance has fatigued brusque acknowledgment both in its home country and abroad; some of the beat works accept affective seven-figure bids at auction.
Of course, sometimes audible cultures, with little absolute interaction, appear aloft the aforementioned idea, and alike assassinate it similarly. Like opera—both in the East and the West, this anatomy arose separately.
Similarly, Korean painters apart developed an abstruse convenance agnate to the abstruse expressionism that took authority in Post-war U.S., but reflecting a added Confucian access to the array of meaninglessness such assignment is anticipation to convey, afterward the Korean war.
With able accent on achievement and in earthy, aerial tones, Dansaekhwa painting in abounding means resembled the assignment of Barnett Newman or Agnes Martin in the West, admitting such comparisons ability be impolitic—or unnecessary.
In 2014 an exhibit at Kukje Gallery—Korea’s toniest by far—shed a spotlight on the once-forgotten Dansaekhwa movement, and the art apple took notice. A 2015 bargain at Christie’s aggrandized the focus on Dansaekhwa; The New Yorker ran a feature.
But at atomic some of the Dansaekhwa artists are annoyed of actuality compared to Western painters and analyzed by Western standards. They’re abduction the movement’s moment in the sun to allocution about Korea, Korean-ness, the post-war era in their home and the approaching of art and backroom (to name aloof a few accessory subjects). Of course, there are additionally fissures in the acumen of Dansaekhwa, acutely the most-exported accomplished art from Korea, amid Koreans. A afterwards movement, Minjung, or “people’s art,” confronted abandon and repression in the 1980s in the country. It receives far beneath all-embracing absorption and is absolutely beneath bankable internationally, adopting some questions about why the best acceptable painting has additionally had the best institutional beef abaft it.
The Observer afresh met with three artists in or abreast Seoul who fabricated at atomic some of their assignment in the Dansaekhwa mode. Here’s what they had to say.
Chong-Hyun’s works, in apple tones and grays, for the best part, generally affection his audible process: blame the acrylic through the aback of the canvas. In his flat in Ilsan, Korea, he accustomed western journalists in August with a able admonition: don’t analyze me to Western painters. (Too late, and we’re sorry.)
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The technique, though, may accept been one way to accomplish his assignment audible back he did not accept all the assets added painters did. “Livelihood was difficult,” he said. “Even accepting the able oil paints or canvases,” was generally not possible.
He acclimated things he had, such as acid wire, which was abounding in post-war Korea. But these items are active as accurate materials, not as begin objects, to actualize abstruse textures and surfaces.
“Western journalists would consistently try to define references,” he said, “which was actual difficult for me.” He was not accomplished in the West and rejects the absorption that alike the acid wire is a symbol. “Barbed wire was accessible to get,” he said. His works are usually artlessly about “the activity amid hemp and oil paint.”
Detail of one of Chong-Hyun’s pieces from “Conjunction,” in his studio. Guelda Voien
In his eighties, Chong-Hyun has assuredly accomplished a adequate life. But it was not consistently the case. For years, back he had to move, schlepping his massive canvases burdened with inches of blubbery oil acrylic was a huge logistical issue. He endured, though, and “they become added allusive to me anniversary year.”
Ha Chong-Hyun’s alone appearance at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles goes up November 12.
Seo-bo’s aboriginal alone New York arcade appearance was beforehand this year at Galerie Perrotin; he additionally angry 84. His textured, acclimatized squares are not “conceptual,” he insists, in addition bounce of the Western artifice of its cant and account on this movement.
In his assignment amplitude in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood, paintings are stored all about him but there is none of the acrylic splatters or chaos one ability accessory with a archetypal artist’s studio. Perhaps this relates to his absorption of Dansaekhwa painting, which is as a discipline: the end drop of the Confucian action of self-purification is the painting.
He batten of “painting as chanting,” and alleged art “the algae of elimination oneself.” So the West doesn’t accept a cartel on affecting descriptions by artists of their work, either.
The abysmal veins in his about bounded works are the aftereffect of a months-long action of assimilation and layering paper. Abounding are in monochrome.
He’s additionally quick to abide the Western assumptions about what artists’ choices mean. “Monochrome is not the aforementioned as in Western art,” he said. “The afire stove creates a black… altered from angle black”; it’s added restrained.
“Ecriture, Black and White” by Park Seo-bo opens at Tina Kim Arcade in New York November 11.
Yong-Ik, adolescent than the core Dansaekhwa artists, began his career authoritative abstruse work, but confused abroad from what he saw as a array of amorality affiliated with absorption in the 1980s, afterwards a political awakening, he said. His works ample two floors at the Ilmin Museum currently and his change from connected painter to conceptual artisan and politically aweless agitator is axiomatic in that show.
One of his belief for a acceptable allotment of art is the actual applied agreement that it be mobile, and accordingly accessible to get from the flat to the gallery. Pointing to a ample aggregation of begin items—his contempo work—he says “this is not a acceptable work. It’s adamantine to backpack this.” Is he accepting us on? Serious? Winking, at the least? Via a translator it’s adamantine to tell, but with his ample smile and agreeable gestures, it’s bright he’s adequate himself either way.
Kim Yong-Ik’s Triptych. Guelda Voien
He tells the account of his brusque about-face appear assignment added abiding in the apple we abide thusly: he was sick, and could not acquisition a cure. Nothing was medically amiss with him, but he couldn’t leave the house. Eventually, he ample it out. He “was so sick… because of modernism.”
Looking at an early, abstruse assignment of his, he says “these polka dots are aloof absurd signs.” But the 1980s in Korea, back citizens could not leave and government paratroopers were massacring left-leaning students, was not a time for absurd art. So he alone it.
Many of Yong-Ik’s afterwards assignment deals with his afterlife and his body. His later, begin assemblage-type works are ample in blood-like colors, footprints, $.25 of trash.
Yong-Ik is not adored about his work, or his life. He formed to accept a doctorate, but back he’d completed his thesis, he artlessly printed the pages and went to a alien southern allotment of the Korean countryside, area he active the absolute argument in a aperture in the ground. He became a actual advantageous artisan later, while an academian, he said, alone because he bare added money.
The bank argument abutting to the high attic at Ilmin describes his latest pieces, while additionally altogether illustrating the artist’s current access to his work.
“… the ‘coffin series’ was inaugurated in 2015. As if abrasion and bathrobe his own corpse, it was through this alternation that the artisan started to humbly embrace the fate of the modernist. Collecting his assignment central coarsely congenital board boxes with texts and images of the Kristigarbha, the coffins assume to be the assured cessation of the artisan acquainted his footsteps—from modernist experimentations, to delivery adjoin political situations or the self-reflection and attempt with his own ethics—in a actual context, and acclimation a burial for his works.”
“Closer…Come Closer” is up until November 6 at the Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, and Kim Yong-Ik’s alone exhibition at Kukje Arcade opens November 22.
Interviews were conducted with the aid of a translator.
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