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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Kim Chong Hak

b. 1937, South Korea

Kim Chong-Hak was born in 1937 at Sinuiju. He majored in painting at Seoul National University, whereupon he chose the path of abstract art in the midst of volatile opposition between abstract and conceptual art. He actively created work during his stays in the US and Japan, and he began attending meetings at 'Art that has become the slave of ideology'. After his return, it was 1979 when the artist decided to leave Seoul for Sokcho from his dissatisfaction in life and in hopes of pursuing his painting career. At this point in time, the artist thought more of death than life, and spent a year without seeing or reading anything. With the help of an acquaintance, Kim moved to Sulak mountain, where nature cured the artist. The spontaneous bloom of flowers was a shock of colour to the artist: 'Pasqueflower, Rosa rugosa, Wild rose, Evening primrose…' He began painting flowers and mountains, rekindling his ambitions of the past: 'I started looking at things again, everything looked anew'. He started feeling the ‘Artist’s purpose and responsibility’ to paint what he saw. Across 20 years, the artist developed a unique painting style so typical, one may think that it seemed quite ordinary. However, Kim reached a stage where he paints freely, as he has once stated: 'The purpose of painting is to be free'.

In Kim's own words, 'The reason in choosing flowers as a motif was that it withdrew from the image of a degenerate artist.' During the 1970 and 1980s, the artists society of Korea was dominated by subjects such as solemnness, sublimeness, and the value of struggle. However, flowers were always a friendly and familiar subject motif for artists, and still persists to be so in the present. Individual artists would have different reasons for painting flowers, but the main reason that flowers continue to remain as a topic un-withered among artists is due to their characteristics of primitive beauty, eros, and death. This is why new appearances of flowers occur with each epoch. Kim's flowers are 'not normal flowers that blossom, but flowers that structurally bloom on a screen' as he himself has said, the combination of the flowers of realities and the conceptual flower are considered to be a ‘fantasy’ that has blossomed through the medium of painting.

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Current Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Kim Chong Hak, Vitality at Perrotin, Paris
Open Now
16 March–11 May 2019 Kim Chong Hak Vitality Perrotin, Paris

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