Seoul현대 HYUNDAI 50. Part 1
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of its founding, Gallery Hyundai (Hyundai Hwarang) is opening a special exhibition: 현대 HYUNDAI 50. The exhibition serves as an opportunity to reflect on the impressive past half-century for both the gallery and the Korean art world at large while also looking towards the future and imagining the next fifty years. Planned in two parts and spanning a variety of eras and themes, the exhibition is slated to run for three months.
Part One of the exhibition showcases approximately seventy works by forty-one masters of modern and contemporary Korean art. The majority of these exemplary pieces were first introduced to the world through one of the countless exhibitions and solo shows held at Gallery Hyundai between 1970 and the early 1990s. Bringing together these masterpieces celebrates historical moments in the oeuvre of each artist.
The main exhibition building showcases the works of artists who inherited the traditions of Korean figurative art and used them to create a visual language entirely their own. Those who explored the Western style of painting include To Sang Bong, Oh Chi Ho, Chang Ucchin, Moon Hakjin, Kwon Okyon, and Yoon Joongsik and Eastern style painters such as Chun Kyungja, Kim Kichang, Byeon Gwansik and Lee Sang-Beom are shown together at the Gallery for the first time in fifty years. Since its founding, the gallery has exhibited both Eastern and Western style paintings alike. In an art world that then focused on antiques and more traditional Eastern painting styles, the appearance and rise of a gallery that also exhibited Western style paintings constituted a startling and refreshing change of pace. In addition, through a number of retrospectives held throughout the years, Gallery Hyundai was instrumental in debuting major works by artists such as Lee Jung Seob and Park Soo-keun both of whom are now considered to be “painters of the people.”
The exhibition also makes public an impressive number of archival materials invaluable to those seeking a deeper understanding of the development of modern and contemporary Korean art. On display throughout the show are candid photographs of the key figures and images from past exhibitions responsible for transforming and cultivating the Korean art world. Items that will be displayed include the guest book from the historic Lee Jung Seob 1972 retrospective, exhibition pamphlets and opening invitations that show the evolution of Korean graphic design, revelatory letters between the gallery and artists and every issue of Hwarang, the art journal published by Gallery Hyundai since 1970. The visitor to the gallery may well feel as if they have walked into a giant time capsule dedicated to preserving pivotal moments in Korean art history.
The new exhibition building presents various masters of Korean abstract art as well as the work by the pioneering artist Nam June Paik. Even in an age dominated by figurative art, Gallery Hyundai supported abstract artists and regularly provided a platform for exhibiting their work. In addition to solo exhibitions, major group shows of abstract art have provided a vital lens on the developing history of Korean abstract art and include: Four Korean Contemporary Artists and their Methods (1979); The Signs and Glyphs of Contemporary Art (1993); The Monochrome of 1970’s Korea (1996); The Development of Korean Contemporary Art: 1970-90 (2001); and Korean Abstract Painting (2015).
This exhibition includes pieces by pioneers of abstract art such as Kim Whanki, Rhee Seundja, Nam Kwan, Yoo Youngkuk, Han Mook, Lee Ungro, Moon Shin, and the paintings and sculptures by masters of monochrome art including Lee Ufan, Park Seobo, Chung Sang-Hwa, Yun Hyong-Keun, Quac Insik, Kwon Youngwoo, and Kim Tschang-Yeul. Notably, this also marks the first public exhibition of Kim Whanki’s work Universe since it broke records to become the highest priced work of Korean art to be sold at auction. Viewers will get the chance to experience the full emotional presence of “Whanki Blue.” Also on display will be Nam June Paik’s seminal large scale TV sculpture, Marco Polo, winner of the Golden Lion at the 1993 Venice Biennale.
For 50 years, Gallery Hyundai has been an active force at the center of the Korean art world, opening some 400 solo shows of artists both foreign and domestic and another 400 group exhibitions. The remarkable works of the greats who worked with the gallery throughout this period, together with the carefully curated selection of archival materials on display, promise to render HYUNDAI 50 a singular occasion for celebrating the cultural and historical role Gallery Hyundai has long played in expanding the foundations of Korean art.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)