Opera Gallery London is presenting a new exhibition titled Korean Art: Cultivating the Unexpected – a group show that brings together five leading Korean contemporary artists: Cho Sung-Hee, Chu Kwang-Young, Seo Young-Deok, Yoo Bong-Sang and Jae Ko. Through the artworks and their multiple narratives, the exhibition spaceis transformed into the world of Korean contemporary art with unexpected experiences.
Korean Art: Cultivating the Unexpected explores the age of intensive industrialisation and mass reproduction with its impressive selection of unique and meticulously handcrafted artworks. The exhibition invites us to reflect upon the age of consumerism and commodification. The artists’ sophisticated approaches to materials and forms speak to nature, culture, traditions and society to create a new visual language. Reflecting on these themes and encouraging their different interpretations, this exhibition builds unanticipated dialogues between sculptures, paintings, collages and mixed media works.
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While connected through their shared nationality and cultural backgrounds, these Korean artists share conceptual interests and a tendency to rethink the medium used in their artworks. They adopt both conventional materials such as oil paint, ink, traditional Korean ‘Hanji’ paper, and less expected industrial objects such as chains, steel nails and recycled paper. The exhibiting artists transform their experience of Asian and Western cultures into material objects, the result of laborious and time-consuming processes.
Chun Kwang Young has been creating art for 50 years and his widely exhibited abstract expressionist artworks vary from massive wall-mounted and freestanding assemblages which feature gradations in colour and smooth craters within their highly textured surfaces. Chun’s signature style draws on his inspiration from his illness-ridden childhood in Korea and the way that medicine was commonly packaged in triangular paper parcels of mulberry paper, or hanji. Similarly combining a personal narrative with artistic expression is Cho Sung-Hee who fuses together traditional Korean sensibility with her unique vision and childhood memories of drawing on the walls and decorating the doors and windows of her house with Hanji paper. Her works explore the complex relationship between colour and texture through a labour intensive, time-consuming process.
Having gained attention with his monumental public artwork, Seo Young-Deok is best known for his hyper-realistic, life-size sculptures of human figures fashioned exclusively from welded chains taken from industrial machinery and bicycles. His works will be showcased alongside Jae Ko with her elegant spirals and ribbon installations which often take on monumental proportions. Inspired by nature, the forms readily evoke organic matter-tree rings, tornadoes, roots, branches or seeds, and have been produced using miles of everyday office, recycled paper or adding-machine tapes, which she reshapes.
This unique group show also features the detailed works by Yoo Bong Sang who uses photography to showcase a range of artistic experiences. Concerned with how pixels constitute an image, Bii Sang chooses simple steel nails as a means to pursue his research. He carefully penetrates thousands of steel nails into wood panels, carefully conducting and revealing light, creating shadows and consequently reflections that reveal landscapes.
The curated selection of artworks is an invitation to experience and cultivate these unanticipated dialogues and tensions between human and environment, natural and industrial worlds. While the real world faces restless and controversial such confrontations, Korean Art: Cultivating the Unexpected brings apparent stillness and calmness.
Korean Art: Cultivating the Unexpected opened at Opera Gallery London on 11th March and will run through until 18th April 2022.
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