From modern text and monochrome work to Joseon-era calligraphies, many galleries are keeping things simple in the coming year. Elsewhere, there is a planned exhibition to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and the Seoul Mediacity Biennale marks its 20th outing.
Here are some exhibitions worth visiting this year.
Yun Hyong-keun’s solo exhibition at PKM Gallery
“Burnt Umber & Ultramarine” by Yun Hyong-keun (PKM Gallery)
In March, PKM Gallery in Samcheong-dong, Seoul, will put on a solo exhibition of 20th century monochrome artist Yun Hyong-keun.
Born in 1928, Yun lived through tough, historic times of Korea from the Japanese colonial era and the Korean War to Gwangju Democratization Movement in 1980.
His works may look simple because of his use of two simple colors -- blue and umber applied with a wide brush -- but they are imbued with a sense of sorrow and solemnity.
Yun also was part of the Dansaekhwa movement of monochromatic painting in the 1970s. His work recently attracted attention after an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), which highlighted work influenced by the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in 1980.
The artist died in 2007.
Yun gained a global attention with his works displayed at Fortuny Museum in Venice last May, which coincided with the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
Jenny Holzer and Lee Ufan at Kukje Gallery
“STATEMENT – redacted” by Jenny Holzer (Kukje Gallery and the artist)
“Relatum a Corner” by Lee Ufan (Kukje Gallery and the artist)
Since it was opened in 1982, Kukje Gallery, also just to the east of Gyeongbok Palace, is planning for a solo exhibition by Jenny Holzer, a text-based conceptual artist. Holzer is already gaining a huge attention in Korea since last November with her three works commissioned by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art displayed at the lobby at the nearby MMCA Seoul and at the outdoor space at the Gwacheon branch.
In September, the gallery is hosting another significant solo exhibition of work by Lee Ufan, the Korean painter, sculptor and philosopher. Born in 1936, he has pushed the boundaries of painting and sculpture. Based in Japan, he joined the Mono-ha movement in 1960s to1970s, which pursues natural or man-made materials such as stone, glass, rubber and iron plates in their works, leading to the development of Korea’s Dansaekhwa movement.
His sculptures are now exhibited at Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, for the first time in the museum’s 45-year history that its spacious outdoor plaza has been devoted to the work of a single artist. Lee also made the New York Times’ list of the Best Art of 2019.
Calligraphy master at Seoul Arts Center
“Tea of Zen” by Kim Jeong-hui (Kansong Museum)
Seoul Arts Center holds an exhibition of work by Kim Jeong-hui, a practitioner of calligraphy and Joseon-era scholar, until March 15. The exhibition is a sort of homecoming for the work after the same exhibition, “A Dialogue between Kim Jeong-hui and Literati of the Qing Dynasty,” was shown at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing last year, attracting more than 300,000 visitors.
A total of 30 galleries or museums were involved in the exhibition to collate calligraphy by Kim, whose work was praised for its beauty both in Korea and China.
“When we put up an exhibition in China, the reaction was very good, which was sort of unexpected,” said Choi Jin-Suk, PR manager at Seoul Arts Center. “Although calligraphy is not popular compared to other art pieces for young people in Korea, they will get fascinated by the beauty of calligraphy drawn by the scholar once they visit the exhibition.”
Seoul Mediacity Biennale
Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA)
Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) will organize “Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2020: One Escape at a Time” in September, marking the 20th anniversary this year. Art will be displayed at the museum and other venues across the city under a designated theme or topic. The Biennale is hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The exhibition will be directed by Yung Ma, a curator of the Contemporary Art and Prospective Creation Department at Centre Pompidou in Paris. He will be the first foreign curator to head the biennale as part of the museum’s efforts to link the festival with other global cities and transcending ideas of borders and time, according to the museum.
“Unflattening” and “Sun & Sea (Marina)” at MMCA
Lee Soo-auck’s “Ruined Seoul” will be shown at an exhibition titled “Unflattening.” (MMCA)
Opera-performance “Sun & Sea (Marina)” (LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA’s website)
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will hold an exhibition -- tentatively titled as “Unflattening” -- from June to September to provide a chance to understand the Korean War and what it is like to experience a war.
The exhibition shows artworks from Korean and other countries, including Hsu Chia-Wei from Taiwan; Moon Kyung-won, Jeon Joon-ho and Kelvin Kyung Kun Park from Korea; and Chto Delat from Russia.
MMCA will host “Sun & Sea (Marina)” the Golden Lion winning opera performance at the 58th Venice Biennale’s Lithuanian Pavilion last year. Thirteen people in bathing suits perform an opera on a sandy beach, which ultimately criticizes lazy attitudes to climate change.
At a New Year’s press conference, MMCA Director Yun Bum-mo said, “It was not easy to invite the opera to Korea; we have put so much efforts to invite one.”
The performance is scheduled for five days in July.
By Park Yuna (email@example.com