|Park Hyun-ki's video installations on view at 'HYUNDAI 50 Part II' at Gallery Hyundai in downtown Seoul / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai|
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Gallery Hyundai, one of the top commercial galleries in Korea, continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, shedding light on Korean experimental artists from the 1960s, international artists the gallery introduced to Korea and young contemporary artists who portray the era we live in through art.
"HYUNDAI 50 Part 1," held from April 17 to May 31, focused on Korea's modern art. The highlight was Kim Whan-ki's "05-IV-71 #200 (Universe)"; art lovers lined up outside the gallery to have a glimpse of the most expensive Korean painting. It was the first time for the painting to be exhibited after being sold for a record 13.2 billion won at a Hong Kong auction in November 2019.
"Part 2 has a different vibe from Part 1. We started by trying to treat the master experimental artists properly, having a high regard for what they have done in Korea's modern art history," said Do Hyung-teh, president of Gallery Hyundai.
Do, who studied art and art history at New York University and the Pratt Art Institute, took over the gallery from his mother Park Myung-ja, the gallery's founder, and breathed new life into the gallery.
The main space is dedicated to five Korean experimental artists ― Lee Seung-taek, Kwak Duck-jun, Park Hyun-ki, Lee Kun-yong and Lee Kang-so. They did not follow the mainstream art world, but developed their own artistic universe.
"We have been trying to promote Korean experimental artists at overseas art fairs for years," Do said.
|Lee Seung-taek's 'Untitled' (1892) on view at 'HYUNDAI 50 Part II' at Gallery Hyundai in downtown Seoul / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai|
The gallery's efforts paid off as the Tate acquired Lee Seung-taek's "Godret Stone" in 2013 and Lee Kun-yong's "Logic of Place" in 2016. Park Hyun-ki's "Untitled (TV Stone Tower)" became a part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.
The artists, who were mainly active from the late 1960s to 1970s, produced installations, performances and conceptual art pieces, breaking away from traditional painting and sculpture.
Lee Seung-taek, who has a major retrospective coming up at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in November, is the pioneer of "non-sculpture," which disrupts conventional artistic notions and questions established political and social values.
"Untitled" (1982) is a site-specific installation that consists of aluminum pipe, paper and thread, creating temporary lines across the space and making viewers reinterpret a familiar space.
Kwak Duck-jun presents his iconic image series "President and Kwak," in which he juxtaposes his face with the faces of U.S. presidents featured on the covers of TIME Magazine, as well as conceptual artwork "Two Weight-scales and Stones" questioning the concept of measurements.
Park Hyun-ki blends the medium of video art with Korea's shamanistic and spiritual objects such as stone towers and "gut" (exorcism).
For the Lee Kang-so section, the gallery presents photographs of his famous works "Void (Reed)" and "Disappearance, Bar in the Gallery" as well as some of his serigraphy works which are on public view for the first time.
Last but not least, Lee Kun-yong showcases his well-known "body drawing," in which he moves his body without watching the canvas to record his movements and trajectories on canvas.
|Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho's 'Anomaly strolls II, Alchemy of Gloden Leaf' on view at 'HYUNDAI 50 Part II' at Gallery Hyundai in downtown Seoul / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai|
Gallery Hyundai became the first Korean gallery to participate in an international art fair in 1987 and made efforts to promote Korean art on the global stage while introducing top international artists to Korean viewers.
The gallery's new space is filled with colorful and distinctive works from international and contemporary Korean artists.
Francois Morellet's neon work "Prickly π Neonly No. 2, 1=3°" is displayed adjacent to Ivan Navarro's "Constellations," which portrays 88 constellations with LED lights in a mirrored wooden box. Robert Indiana's blue and red sculpture "AMOR" is also on view.
Photographer Thomas Struth's works show how a gallery can collaborate with an artist. Struth visited South and North Korea for three years with help from Gallery Hyundai, producing a series of contrasting yet similar images of the two Koreas.
The gallery also works to support and nurture Korean contemporary artists.
Artist duo Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho unveils "Anomaly strolls Ⅱ, Alchemy of Golden Leaf," which was on view in 2018 at their exhibition "News From Nowhere" at Tate Liverpool in the U.K.
Kinetic artist Choe U-ram's latest work "One (Reply to Dr.Lee)" is made of Tyvek, a protective clothing material, as a metaphor of life and death in the pandemic era.
|Kim Min-jung's 'The Street' on view at 'HYUNDAI 50 Part II' at Gallery Hyundai in downtown Seoul / Courtesy of Gallery Hyundai|
Kim Min-jung's "The Street" showcases how young Korean artists explore and experiment with traditional materials as she burns "hanji" (Korean traditional mulberry paper) to create dark marks on the edge.
Lee Seul-gi presents "U: The Butterfly Dream (after Zhuangzi) = Equality (Union) of Things and Ourselves," a Korean silk quilt she created in collaboration with Korean master quilter from Tongyeong region.
The exhibit runs through July 19. Admission to Gallery Hyundai is by advance reservation.