[Traces of Korea in Paris (2014). Foto Rb]

Chung Shi Young, “The recent movement in contemporary Korean art”, in Mimi Wick Kim, Korean Contemporary Art, Munich, London and New York, Prestel Verlag, 2012

In the introductory essay to this well conceived volume [1], Chung highlights the individuality of contemporary artists in South Korea, and influence of popular culture on Korean visual arts since the 1990s.

The last decades have been characterized by a divorce of the arts from high modernism and the abstract options of the 1970s. The recent wave of art inspired by pop possibilities expresses social concerns in non traditional ways while, at hhe same time, maybe in contradictory fashion, would seem to also reflect a light-hearted and materialist mind-set.

Pop was first adopted by artist Choi Jeong Hwa in the 1990s. Others followed suit. Chose U Ram was inspired by science fiction cartoons. Lee Hyungkoo creates a variety of fictitious biology. Some artists returned from abroad and adapted their overseas experience to the new tasks at home – see in particular Kim Sora, Gimhongsok, and the concept of art as a communicative device by Rhode.

Among the artists whose work has been selected inside the volume, the personal preference of the present writer goes to Cho Duck Hyun’s “aesthetizaton of history” (p. 32) [2]; Chung Suejin’s poetics of the “Purely visual” as she puts it herself, and to her strong sense of colour and hyperrealism; Jung Yeondoo’s “photographic and video works at the crossroads between fact and fiction” (p. 84) [3]; and Rhee Kibong’s interwoven use of both traditional Asian drawings motifs and techniques, and contemporary Western procedures [4].

[Roberto Bertoni]

[1] A PDF selection of writings and paintings from the volume is available on line.
[2] See, for example, “A memory of the 20th century”. http://www.hawaii.edu/artgallery/crossings/tcm_cho_dh.htm
[3] A selection of images is available from Gráfica Coletiva.
[4] Some work by this artist is in the Internet site of Kukje Gallery.