Bridging almost a century of Brazilian art, Visions of Brazil: Reimagining Modernity from Tarsila to Sonia at Blum & Poe in New York (30 April–22 June 2019), hosted in collaboration with Mendes Wood DM, offers a rereading of Brazilian Modernism through the works of artists practising at different times, from the 20th century through to the...
In 1969, Horikawa Michio, schoolteacher and member of the artist collective GUN (Group Ultra Niigata), filled out the customs paperwork to mail a one-kilogram river stone from Niigata, the proverbial 'backside of Japan', to President Nixon. In return, Horikawa received a thank you note for this 'most unusual Christmas gift'—a muted anti-war...
'He was not a "political" kind of person. He just wanted to be honest and straight. But it was not easy in Korea to live like that,' writes curator Kim Inhye on artist Yun Hyong-keun. For much of his life, Yun lived in proximity to some of the most tumultuous moments in modern Korean history, from which he emerged as a pioneer of abstract...
Born in 1927, the late Chung Chang-Sup was of the so-called “foundation generation” in Korea that not only bore the potential, but also faced the question of reestablishing the nation in the wake of Japanese colonization (which ended in 1945) and the Korean War (1950–53). The apparent task for Chung, a Seoul National University graduate, was to reinvent a national identity with his art, by creating a distinct Korean style. A survey of Chung’s 50-odd-year career was recently hosted at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery, which illustrated how his artistic awareness and brilliant sensibility, upon discovering the vehicle of hanji (Korean mulberry paper), came to deliver his captivating, signature monochrome works.
Kukje Gallery has been a pivotal cultural hub in Seoul, Korea since its inception in 1982. Kukje Gallery is located in the heart of Samcheong-dong, a historically and culturally significant district. The gallery boasts three unique buildings, each titled according to its age: K1, K2, and K3. K2 opened in 2007 to celebrate the gallery’s 25th anniversary, and K3 opened in 2012 to commemorate its 30th anniversary.
Committed to showcasing both international and Korean artists, Kukje is widely celebrated for its diverse and ambitious programming. Specializing in modern and contemporary art, Kukje is often the first venue in Korea to present prominent artists, and major exhibitions have been staged to introduce leading international artists such as Anthony Caro, Anselm Kiefer, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, Donald Judd, Anish Kapoor, Bill Viola, Roni Horn, Candida Höfer, Julian Opie, Paul McCarthy, Jenny Holzer, Eva Hesse and Jean-Michel Othoniel.
In conjunction with its focus on international artists, Kukje is committed to promoting Korean artists abroad, introducing artists such as Haegue Yang, Kimsooja, Gimhongsok, Kyungah Ham, Yeondoo Jung, Sora Kim and Jae-Eun Choi at major art fairs around the world. Just as importantly, Kukje has made a strong commitment to post-war Korean artists including Ha Chong-Hyun, Lee Ufan, Chung Chang-Sup, Kwon Young-Woo, Park Seo-Bo, and Chung Sang-Hwa. In particular, Kukje has played a critical role in introducing Korean artists to important collectors, museums and cultural venues around the world, and many Korean artists supported by Kukje Gallery have exhibited in international biennials and major museum exhibitions.
These projects along with the gallery’s ambitious and scholarly exhibition catalogues and ongoing lecture series are what make Kukje a significant contributor in shaping Korea’s cultural landscape. Building on its unmatched reputation, Kukje continues to play a key role in developing the domestic art market as well as providing an important venue for introducing international trends.
Kukje Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Chung Chang-Sup, one of Korea’s most celebrated Dansaekhwa masters and historically important abstract painters. Using traditional Korean paper pulp or tak, Chung’s work expresses a distinct Korean sentimentality and ideology,founded on his attempt to unify material and gesture. Installed throughout K1 and K2, this exhibition will be comprised of twenty-one major artworks that span his entire life’s practice; the exhibition provides a comprehensive introduction to the artist’s ideology of “unity between the thing and the self.
"When I first found tak paper in the 1970s, I did not think “I might just try this,”but it immediately made sense to me so naturally that I felt as though I had known tak paper all along and something in me clicked. No sooner had I found it then I found myself absorbed in it. […] Maybe that was the reason why I felt so comfortable and familiar with the paper when I chose it as an agent to express material-hood.It simply had a feeling, and it was coming towards me."1
Chung Chang-Sup’s unique body of works began with his attempt to rediscover Korean traditions. When he began his art practice, Korea was in social turmoil following the Korean War and in a major transition toward modernization. The Korean art scene, which was centered around the Korean National Art Exhibition (Kukjeon)at the time, was adopting Western modernism without any of its ideological foundation. At first Chung followed the trends of Informel and other Western art movements of the 1960s, and he joined the abstract movement initiated by a younger generation of artists who were looking to challenge institutional art practices. During this period he used oil paint to create a suffused effect, investigatingEastern ink-and-wash painting. In the mid-1970s Chung was introduced to the Korean paper hanji, which became a major turning point in his practice.
Hanji is a material commonly and widely used in Korea for everyday utilitarian needs such as furniture, calligraphy, and fans. Hanjiis also used as a translucent window covering, known as changhoji, in traditional architecture. Changhojiis a material that acts as a filter, effectively becoming a symbol for combining the duality that is “in” and “out.”The artist began using hanji because of this strong association,and to connect to the importantKorean traditions that were being lost. This can be seen clearly in Chung’s Return series, where he attached hanji to the canvas and let the natural permeation of ink-and-wash bleed through the paper. This series powerfully investigates Korean identity, and at the same time evokes the traditional sentimentality lying dormant inside us.
In the 1980s, in order to overcome the limitation of paper becoming a mere background material, Chung Chang-Sup began to explore tak, the raw material of hanji, resulting in the Tak series. In this body of work, the artist first soaked tak in water and kneaded it into a thick paste before applying it on canvas and sculpting subtle folds with his hands. The results of this technique, once dried, exposed various delicate, diagonal lines and revealed the unique rhythm and structure of the fibers in the paper. For the artist, this approach was based on his effort to remove his own ego, a process where he waits for the innate characteristics of the tak to naturally surface. Instead of using a brush, the artist used his hands to mould and apply the tak, a process that became an important element of the artist’s work where his actions, identity, and soul integrated with the material. In this way the artist himself was able to permeate into the material transforming the large canvas into paper.
In the 1990s, Chung started his Meditation series, a body of work consisting of orderly grids and deep colors. Combining burgundy, indigo blue, and brown to the wet tak paste in order to achieve a darker palette, the artist created an optical effect, mirroring an endless abyss of color. The solid square surface of the grid is reminiscent of the partitions found in traditional Korean windows, which was where Chung found inspiration for their use, and the hanji, contrasts with the rich textures of the fibrous tak. For Chung, this dynamic interplay between the various material textures embodies his desire for “paintings that hanji paints by itself.”
Beginning in the 1990s,the Meditation series was simplified to an ascetic black and white monochrome palette,a mood that evoked a state of absolute silence. Reducing his aesthetic to reflect humble materials and a simple Korean sentimentality, the raw muted colors in this later series,produced until 2010, reflect the artist’s deepening identification with Korean aesthetics and traditions.
Chung Chang-Sup’s works embody his strong pursuit of the ideal of removing the ego. This practice emphasizes a return to fundamental form in order toexpress an abstraction of Korean consciousness, where, in the artist’s words,the “artwork depicts aworld without depiction” through hanji and tak. The artist has saidthat “tak paper,as the symbol of national sentiment,mediates the process of acclimatization of my existence and the material-hood of tak.I want my works to bethe truthful reflectionof myself and ourcontemporary society.”This exhibition explores deeplyChung Chang-Sup’s artistic vision and philosophy highlighting his interest inreturning to natureand the ideals of Korean cultural identity.
Born in 1927 in Cheongju in the North Chungcheong Province of South Korea, Chung Chang-Sup graduated from the Department of Painting, College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University in 1951. He made his debut exhibiting inthe 2nd Korean National Art Exhibition in 1953, with his work Sunset, a work inspired by Cubism’s deconstruction and analysis of objects.The artist was also influenced by Informel which was developing in a more radical circle of younger artists such as Park Seo-Bo and Young-Whan Kim. Despite his interest however, Chung did not involve himself formally with any movements and instead pursued his individual practice. From the late-1960s,Chung explored Eastern ink-and-wash aesthetics combining them with oil paints. In his Circles series, he articulated ideas of circulation and the circle, core concepts inKorean aesthetic consciousness. He was a professor from 1961 to 1993 at the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University, and was granted the title of Honorary Professor upon retirement.
Beginning with his participation in the inaugural Modern Artists Association Exhibition in 1957, Chung Chang-Sup exhibited widely establishing his place as a vital member of the Korean art scene. He participated in major international exhibitions such as the 2nd Paris Youth Biennale (1961); Actuel Exhibition, Seoul (1964); São Paulo Art Biennial (1965); Working with Nature: Traditional Thought in Contemporary Art from Korea at Tate Liverpool (1992); Dansaekhwa, official collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and the 12th Sharjah Biennial (2015). The artist’s major solo exhibitions include Duson Gallery, Seoul (1984); Tokyo Gallery (1994); a major retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (2010).Chung’s works are in major collections including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon; Seoul Museum of Art; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art; M+ Museum forVisual Culture, Hong Kong; and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The artist died in 2011.
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