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[Herald Interview] Korean collector brings French art to Korea

Business magnate Moon Duck-hwa talks about his exhibition plan and museum opening

Major works of French contemporary art will go on exhibition in Korea in December as part of the Korea-France Year celebration aimed at promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Among the many French cultural events being held this year in Korea, the upcoming exhibition is one of the largest events, introducing more than 50 French contemporary artists.

The show has been put together by acclaimed French art critic Gerard Xuriguera and avid Korean art collector Moon Duck-hwa, CEO of logistics-cultural content-investment company MY Invest, based in Seoul. After more than a year of preparation, the exhibition is slated to run at Yangpyeong Art Museum in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, from Dec. 13 to Feb. 28, 2017. 

Moon Duck-hwa, CEO of MY Invest and art collector (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
Moon Duck-hwa, CEO of MY Invest and art collector (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

“I am going to include them in my collection after the exhibition,” Moon said, in an interview Wednesday at his office in Seoul.

The exhibition, curated by Xuriguera and organized together with the Yangpyeong Art Museum and Korea Art Center, will showcase paintings, sculptures and photographs by some 50 artists, who mainly work in France. The artists consist of not only French artists, but also international artists from Argentina, Italy, Congo, China and Japan who have studied art or have been making art in France.

Highlights of the exhibition will include abstract paintings by Claude Bellegarde, Claude Viallat, Denis Riviere and Ben Vaultier, photographs by Sabine Weiss and Jacque Bosser and sculptures by Jean Pierre Giovanelli and Paul Van Hoeydonck, whose “Fallen Astronauts” aluminum sculpture was placed on the Moon by the Apollo 15 crew in 1971, becoming the first and the only piece of art on the moon. 

Wagon SNCF Gris by Peter Klasen (Courtesy of the artist)
Wagon SNCF Gris by Peter Klasen (Courtesy of the artist)

“Individual artworks have uniqueness that I find very fascinating,” Moon said.

“I’m also planning to permanently show them at my future museum,” he added. Moon plans to build his own museum on the outskirts of Seoul in a few years to showcase his collection amassed over the last two decades, plus the French artworks arriving in Korea in June for the December exhibition.

Moon’s collection consists of Korean, Japanese and Chinese modern and contemporary works of art he purchased during his frequent business trips to Shanghai, Ghangzhou, Qingdao and Osaka -- the cities where his offices are located.

“I started my collection with the paintings I received as gifts. Then I became more interested in art and started to learn about it,” said Moon, whose favorite painting is an Oriental painting of plum blossoms.

Most of the works in his collection are paintings by emerging young artists in Korea, China and Japan.

The French paintings are the first Western pieces of art to be included in his collection.

He envisions his museum as an easily accessible place for the public. 

Bleu Blanc Noir by Ben Vaultier (Courtesy of the artist)
Bleu Blanc Noir by Ben Vaultier (Courtesy of the artist)

“I want to lower the barrier between art and the public,” he added. “I didn’t know much about art. But museums and galleries in the cities I traveled to have taught me about art.”

Moon developed his interest in art into a business two years ago, starting with investments in children’s animation series and movies -- genres that struggle with funding.

He joined hands with the Educational Broadcasting System, Korea’s public education channel, to produce and run an animation series named “Forest Delivery Bing,” which is based on a story of insect characters living in a lush forest, on EBS in March next year. It will be adapted into a movie sometime next year. Moon is providing funds for half of the undisclosed production cost.

The animation sector of his business called KAMB has expanded into the Chinese market, where it promotes major Korean animations such as “Robocar Poli” and “Cloud Bread” to Chinese audiences.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)
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