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Gallery Hyundai to launch NFT art platform ‘ETNAH’ in March

Do Hyung-teh, president of Gallery Hyundai, gives a presentation about ETNAH during the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (ETNAH)
Do Hyung-teh, president of Gallery Hyundai, gives a presentation about ETNAH during the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (ETNAH)


Gallery Hyundai, a major commercial art gallery in South Korea, plans to launch a non-fungible token-based art platform called ETNAH, that will feature digital works by renowned domestic and overseas artists.

ETNAH will have a three-month test run starting May and be officially launched in August. Do Hyung-teh, president of the gallery, has formed AIT as a startup to launch the NFT art platform in collaboration with Andrew Ku, CEO of ALTAVA Group -- an IT company based in Seoul and Singapore that helps create virtual platforms.

“Gallery Hyundai has contributed to Korean art enormously, and I had come to think what I could do for the next 50 years,” Do said during the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul.

“I am 100 percent sure that digital art will go hand in hand with current contemporary art of today. The main purpose of ETHNA is to popularize NFT art, which has a lot of potential. Some are afraid to jump into NFT art, but that is because they did not fully understand NFT.”

Do reminisced a conversation with Paik Nam-june, Korean-born video art pioneer, when he was staying in the US to study art in the mid-1990s. Paik used to have a special tie with Gallery Hyundai when it was run by Park Myung-ja, who established the gallery in 1970 as Hyundai Hwarang.

“Paik used to tell me the ‘time will come where you can’t sell paintings hanging on a wall like your mother did. In your generation, all the walls will be covered with screens.’ That is why I have worked with many media artists,” he added. 

From left: Do Hyung-teh, president of Gallery Hyundai, Lee Kun-yong and Andrew Ku, CEO of ALTAVA Group pose for a photo at the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
From left: Do Hyung-teh, president of Gallery Hyundai, Lee Kun-yong and Andrew Ku, CEO of ALTAVA Group pose for a photo at the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

ETNAH will encompass works by not only digital artists but conventional artists whose works will be recreated as digital art; the artists include two Korean modern painters Kim Whan-ki (1913-1974), Lee Jung-seop (1916-19656) as well as British conceptual artist Ryan Gander and Korea’s conceptual, performing artist Lee Kun-yong.

The copyright of the art attached to the NFTs will belong to the artist and foundation of the artist. The profits generated from sales on the platform will be shared with artists or foundations, an idea which requires further discussions, according to the gallery.

Lee Kun-yong, who belongs to the first generation of Korea’s avant-garde artists, is famously known with his “Body Scape” series that shows how his body interacts with the canvas and the painting medium, defying the standard rules of paintings -- freeing himself by purposelessly painting lines in his own way.

ETHNA will offer a platform where an avatar of Lee and users will communicate virtually to create “Body Scape” painting, which will be issued as NFT art as a result. Kim Whan-ki’s paintings will be newly created as NFT art using gamification. The details are in discussion with the Whanki Foundation, do said. 

Lee Kun-yong speaks during the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
Lee Kun-yong speaks during the press conference on Wednesday in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)


“I have considered communication as very important issue in art. Even little kids can do Body Scape paintings as long as they know the method. I have seen paintings outside of paintings. So I wanted to give it a try. To me, art is not about how technically and sophisticatedly things are created,” Lee said during the press conference.

The platform will be an Ethereum-based system, but will adopt a multichain ecosystem to allow wider options. The platform will be open to accepting credit-card payments for those who are not familiar with cryptocurrency payment.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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