Seoul현대 HYUNDAI 50 Part II
Part Two of Gallery Hyundai’s 50th anniversary exhibition, 현대 HYUNDAI 50, highlighting works by artists the gallery has started working with from the mid-1980s to the present.
Over seventy works by thirteen foreign artists and sixteen Korean artists who share a part of the gallery’s history will be presented. The mid-1980s, the chronological starting point of this exhibition, was also the period in which Gallery Hyundai’s vision for an increasingly international presence began to take active shape. In 1987, Gallery Hyundai became the first Korean gallery to participate in an international art fair promoting Korean art on the global stage. Concurrently, the gallery started to introduce the works of major foreign contemporary artists to the Korean audience. During the 1990s, the gallery opened a new building to accommodate the rapidly diversifying genres, medium and scale that marked the new trends in contemporary art. Throughout the 2000s, the gallery proactively sought and supported younger contemporary artists through project spaces such as the Window Gallery, doART and 16 Bungee. Since 2010, the gallery’s curatorial direction has been largely scholarly, moving freely between global and Korean art history with particular focus on shedding new light on Korea’s experimental art scene that has proven to be ahead of its time.
The galleries of the new space present an opportunity to revisit Gallery Hyundai’s history, specifically in terms of its role as a leader in the shifting trends of contemporary art. The works on display are a varied selection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, media, and installations by global artists who represent the overarching flow of contemporary art history. In the first floor gallery, the space is redefined by the twelve zig zagging neon lights that comprise François Morellet’s work Prickly π Neonly No. 2, 1=3°, while the countless stars of the night sky pour from the frame of Iván Navarro’s beautiful new piece, Constellations. The center of the gallery showcases the work Anomaly Strolls_Alchemy of Gold, a large-scale video installation work by Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho, marking the Korean debut of the work following their solo exhibition in 2018 at the Tate Liverpool. The piece combines footage of an empty house in Kanazawa, Japan with an automated plant factory in Korea raising questions of existence with poetic reflections on the conditions of contemporary life.
On the second floor, visitors will experience the startling visual pleasure of multi-layered interaction between color and form, language and image, sign and meaning, by interacting with works that transcend the boundaries of genre, artistic tradition, era and nationality. Examples include: Jesús Rafael Soto’s Ambivalence-11 consisting of rectangles of varied sizes and colors arranged carefully atop vertical stripes creating the optical illusion of floating; Robert Indiana’s sculpture AMOR, with its dramatic contrast of red exterior and blue interior; Michael Craig-Martin’s Untitled series, in which everyday words and objects are transformed by his sensuous use of color; and Sarah Morris’s abstract painting 1980 (Rings), with its diverse array of magnified clips and closures that serve as lines partitioning the canvas to be subsequently filled with vibrant color.
With the founding of doART Beijing in 2007, Gallery Hyundai began actively introducing works by artists of Chinese origin. Reflecting this history, the gallery presents works by Chinese contemporary art titans Ai Weiwei and Zeng Fanzhi. Ai Weiwei’s work Untitled is modeled after a plastic toy belonging to the artist’s own cat reborn through the process of traditional furniture production in the hands of Chinese artisans. Zeng Fanzhi’s representative series “Landscape” and “Masks” reflect the light and shadow of China’s rapid modernization. Meanwhile, On Kawara’s “Date Paintings” are the result of his almost meditative practice of painting the date of production on each work and One Million Years, which collects a million years’ worth of past and future into the form of a book, poses further philosophical questions of time and existence. Other works include: the photographs of Thomas Struth, who traveled to North Korea in collaboration with Gallery Hyundai to capture scenes of Pyongyang; Fred Sandback’s sculptural activation of space; Tomás Saraceno’s vision of utopia and futuristic floating cities; and the playful works of Ryan Gander utilizing traditional artistic materials to poke fun at the legacy of modernism itself. In addition to these original works, the exhibition will include archival materials from past gallery exhibitions of major foreign artists including 1992’s Christo: 1980s-1990s, 1996’s Ellsworth Kelly, and 1997’s Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In the basement gallery, viewers are met with representative works by Korean artists who have grown together with the gallery over the years. These include the likes of Ik-Joong Kang, Minjung Kim, Kim Sung Yoon, Toh Yun-Hee, Park Minjoon, Yoo Geun-Taek, Lee Myoung Ho, Seulgi Lee, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, and Choe U-Ram. A new work by Ik-Joong Kang made to commemorate the 50th Anniversary will be unveiled. Minjung Kim’s The Street comprised of careful arrangements of traditional hanji paper burned by incense candles will be highlighted. Also included will be Seulgi Lee’s U: The rat pretends to be dead. = Quiet. and U: The Butterfly Dream (after Zhuangzi) = Equality (Union) of Things and Ourselves expressing her critical awareness of the modernization of tradition through her own visual language tapping the connections between handicraft, oral tradition, and contemporary art. Paintings by Kim Sung Yoon, Toh Yun-Hee, Park Minjoon, and Yoo Geun-Taek provide an opportunity to experience the full breadth of issues tackled by contemporary painting. Lee Myoung Ho’s Tree series that capture painting-like scenes of trees against canvas that seek to reason their way through the history and essential properties of photography as a medium. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries video piece combines text and image with music in an acerbic aphorism highlighting the more irrational aspects of life. Choe U-Ram’s new large-scale work, One(Reply to Dr. Lee), is a giant white flower that appears to slowly bloom and wilt as a metaphors of life and death.
The main building becomes a space to encounter Korea’s major experimental artists, bringing together works by Lee Seung-taek, Kwak Duck-Jun, Park Hyunki, Lee Kun-Yong, and Lee Kang-So all of whom avoided the various bandwagons of the mainstream art world and worked toward the construction of their own singular artistic universe. In their works we see unfailingly incisive approaches to subjects like the natural and the artificial, life and art, the material and the conceptual, tradition and innovation, and the extant and the illusory. By championing these experimental artists, Gallery Hyundai continues to shape the context and flow of art history. Among other acquisitions of note, the Tate acquired Lee Seung-Taek’s “Godret Stone” in 2013 followed by Lee Kun Yong’s work in 2016. In 2018, Park Hyunki’s work of video and stone became a part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The current exhibition presents a new version of Kwak Duck-Jun’s scale piece, Two Weight-Scale and a Stone, encompassing a humorous take on the relationship between matter and phenomena. Park Hyunki’s major work Untitled (TV Seesaw), juxtaposing natural materials against artificial video will be presented along with Lee Kun-Yong’s body-place-action-based paintings and performance photographs. Lee Seung-taek’s Untitled 1982 installation, with its omnidirectional use of the gallery’s floor, ceiling, and walls, will be showcased for the first time in forty years while Lee Kang-So’s serigraphic visualization of the tension between image versus reality as seen in the works Untitled-7812046 and Untitled-7812026 will be exhibited for the first time ever since their production in 1978.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)