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.Read More
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
In this IGTV video, Felicia Chen, associate director of Blum & Poe, Tokyo, provides a short but insightful introduction to Korean-born artist Ha Chong Hyun 's practice through a discussion of the works exhibited by Blum & Poe in the artist's solo exhibition, which took place at the gallery's Tokyo space between 23 March–18 May 2019)....
Among the now internationally acclaimed Dansaekhwa artists, Ha Chong-Hyun (b. South Korea, 1935) is notable for his undeniable influence on the shifting landscape of Korean art in the 1960s and '70s. A part of the first wave of artists to embrace abstraction in South Korea, he also cofounded A.G., a pioneering avant-garde collective that gave...
'One thing to remember about Tansaekhwa is that it was never an official movement,' Joan Kee, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, explains in an email interview. 'There was no manifesto, no declaration—not even a series of exhibitions consciously organized under that rubric.'
As someone who has personally spent too much time in too many art fairs over the past decade or so, I have become acclimated to a certain kind of art-fair art-viewing experience. Neon signs vie for attention with massive dayglo paintings, holograms in pristine plexiglass vitrines strive to out-wow the virtual reality experiences offered in Oculus...
It is not uncommon among contemporary Korean artists to find the same title used repeatedly for different paintings, often over a period of several years. Although one might find a number sequence to differentiate one painting from the next, for the most part the repetition of the title is perennial.
At Almine Rech Gallery in Paris, 21 of the artist's paintings, the majority of which were created in the past four years, demonstrated Ha's ability to imbue paint with the qualities of sculpture. The artist uses a methodical, labor-intensive process to create energetic paintings on hemp cloth, recalling the sacks of aid supplies distributed to...
Dansaekhwa, a genre of monochromatic paintings from South Korea, will make its Chinese mainland debut in September. The show at Yuz Museum in Shanghai, featuring more than 70 works by different artists, including the elderly, is expected to draw collectors and lovers of art who share cultural similarities with Korean people. The artworks are...
TEFAF spoke with Tina Kim, founder of the Tina Kim Gallery (stand 60), on Ha's bae-ap-bub painting technique (backpressure method).
CoBo speaks to Zoe Chun, Communication Director of Kukje Gallery – CoBo Challenge at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017.