b. 1935, South Korea

Ha Chong-Hyun Biography

Ha Chong-Hyun is a Korean artist known for his innovative approach to painting, and for having been a leading member of the Korean style of abstract painting known as Dansaekhwa. Roughly translated as 'monochrome painting', Dansaekhwa refers to the work of a group of loosely affiliated Korean artists—among them Lee Ufan, Park Seo-Bo, and Yun Hyong-keun—who in the 1970s pioneered an aesthetic that emphasises process, tactility, and surface.

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Graduating with a BFA from Seoul's Hongik University in 1959, Ha Chong-Hyun began experimenting with geometric abstractions in the early stages of his career. White Paper for Urban Planning (1967) from the 'Urban Planning' series, for example, depicts angular shapes composed of straight lines and monochromatic gradients that echo decorative patterns found in traditional Korean architecture. In an interview with Ocula Magazine in 2017, the artist reflected that the series was inspired by the urban development that was then going on in Seoul, which led him to search for ways of creating 'modern works while incorporating something of my culture that has always been there'.

Ha Chong-Hyun's artworks are also marked by his use of inexpensive and quotidian materials, a trait he shared with many of his contemporaries working in post-War Korea. As the artist reflected in his interview with Ocula Magazine, he could not afford to produce large scales of only one type of work and wished to investigate the full range of materials available around him. In the installation Relationship 72-11 (1972), for example, Ha strung rope between two walls of a gallery and placed an upright wooden beam on top. He also incorporated barbed wire into his paintings, arranging it horizontally in Untitled 72-C (1972) or in a grid pattern in Work 73-15 (B) (1973). Burlap sack, which was dispatched by the United States for relief goods during and after the war in Korea, became one of his favoured canvases as well.

Around the same time as he was experimenting with burlap sacks and barbed wire, Ha Chong-Hyun began working with a method known as bae-ap-bub, which involves pushing paint through the back of the canvas. Though simple, this method allows for countless variations depending on the size of the pores in the fabric and the pressure with which the paint is applied.

In his 'Conjunction' series (c 1970s–ongoing), Ha Chong-Hyun employs bae-ap-bub to create diverse surfaces that range from the vertical columns of light and darker shades of oil paint in Conjunction 79-11 (1979) to short, vertical strokes of white in Conjunction 05-171 (2005). Others, such as Conjunction 16-321 (2016), depict an array of short, angular marks that resemble the vowels of hangul (the Korean alphabet). Many 'Conjunction' paintings also foster a sense of dimensionality where the edges of paint congeal, as can be seen in Conjunction 14-136 (2014) and Conjunction 18-07 (2018), among others.

In his interview with Ocula Magazine, Ha Chong-Hyun explained that the word 'conjunction' 'is really the essence of my work: the conjunction between the materials—oil paint and hemp cloth—and my spirit and performance.' This concern with the intersection between the act of painting and the physicality of the materials that go into it is deeply in alignment with the philosophies of the Dansaekhwa artists at large.

Ha Chong-Hyun exhibits internationally, including at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (2012); Gyeongnam Art Museum, Changwon (2004); and Fondazione Mudima, Milan (2003), among others. In 2015, his work featured in the exhibition Dansaekhwa, a Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale. Widely recognised for his contribution to contemporary art in Korea, Ha served as the chairman of Korean Avant-Garde Association between 1969 and 1974, commissioner and advisor to the inaugural Gwangju Biennale in 1995, and the director of Seoul Museum of Art from 2001 to 2006.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019

Ha Chong-Hyun Featured Artworks

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Conjunction 97-002 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 97-002, 1997 Oil on hemp cloth
180 x 120 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
Conjunction 18-201 & Conjunction 18-202 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 18-201 & Conjunction 18-202, 2018 Oil on hemp cloth
260 x 776 cm
Kukje Gallery Contact Gallery
Conjunction 21-34 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 21-34, 2021 Oil on hemp
63 3/4 x 51 1/8 inches
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Blum & Poe
Conjunction by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting, textile
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction, 2002 Oil on hemp cloth
120 x 180 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Contact Gallery
Conjunction 08-103 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 08-103, 2008 Oil on hemp cloth
80 x 100 cm
Cardi Gallery Contact Gallery
Conjunction 15-156 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 15-156, 2015 Oil on hemp cloth
180 x 120 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Conjunction 90-53 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 90-53, 1990 Oil on canvas
81 x 100 cm
Kamakura Gallery Contact Gallery
Conjunction 16-103 by Ha Chong-Hyun contemporary artwork painting
Ha Chong-Hyun Conjunction 16-103, 2016 Oil on hemp
64 x 51.38 inches
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery

Ha Chong-Hyun Recent Exhibitions

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Ha Chong-Hyun Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Aspen, Brussels, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai
Blum & Poe contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan Blum & Poe Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo
Kukje Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Kukje Gallery Busan, Seoul

Ha Chong-Hyun In Ocula Magazine

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In Ocula Advisory

Ha Chong-Hyun In Related Press

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Ha Chong-Hyun In Video & Audio

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