Korean Eye 2012

3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Korean Eye 2012, Lee Jaehyo, 0121-1110=107041, 2007.jpg
'0121-1110 = 107041', 2007, by Lee Jaehyo

Billed as 'the largest survey of new Korean art to date' and underwritten by banking money, this is the first non-Saatchi Collection show here. It represents a Korea-promoting organisation's holdings, filleted to 33 artists by Saatchi's curators.

It's certainly varied. Some works inevitably leverage cultural translocation, such as Shin Meekyoung's standout roomful of traditional vases, remade perilously in soap, on packing crates. Others meditate deftly on memory's frailties, like Cho Duck Hyun's smoky, photo-derived graphite drawings of old Korean families in formalwear, repeated in symmetries, segments plangently missing. There's Cecily Brown-style, sexualised Abstract Expressionism, adept Photorealism and sociological photography exploring Korea's westernisation.

Uppermost, though, is a technocratic bent. Choe Uram uses steel to make intricate, kinetic sculptures that look like wafting, fern-like plants or sea creatures. Bae Joonsung manufactures slightly dubious peepshows: in lenticulars inset into canvases, women's clothes fall off. Hong Sung Chul's photographic images of the body are less gimmicky. Suggesting fear or anxiety, they are printed on to canvases comprised of taught lines of elastic thread, visible from one angle only.

Je Baak, winningly, digitally fashions what seem like glowing deep-sea fish from footage of fairground tilt-a-whirls and Ferris wheels: this relates to Buddhism, apparently. Haegue Yang is an obvious absence and one might query the politicking behind the show, but this is a useful bluffer's guide to Korean art – some of it, for now, surely lost in translation.


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I went to the opening of Korean Eye last night. It's a fantastic show. Best thing I've seen this year. Definitely go and see it!