Dansaekhwa, considered by many as the international face of contemporary Korean art, was a movement that was only recently discovered upon grouping paintings from the 1970’s. From the ashes of the Korean War, when the country was stricken with poverty, artists had to manage with as little as possible. Finding beauty within emptiness and subtlety, many internationally acclaimed Dansaekhwa artists found unique approaches to manipulate the materials of paintings. Work of Kwon Young-woo, a critical leader of the movement, is being shown at Kukje Gallery.
This fairly small exhibition (named Various White) highlights the white hanji (Korean rice paper) works done from the 70’s and 80’s, many which have never been shown to the public. Kwon’s later paintings, those that were done in Paris, are currently being shown at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
Kwon’s monochrome paintings (or portrayals of manipulating rice paper) are seemingly empty yet full of movement. These movements are not just two-dimensional as they form a variety of textures on the surface of the canvass, subtly and rhythmically offering glimpses of three-dimensional movement. The details of the dynamic three-dimensional sculptures are all random, creating shadows that are unique by each manipulation, further adding to the vibrant movement within the monotony. Upon taking a step back however, there is a sense of unity and control that seems extremely well coordinated. The exhibition also offers a rare interview footage of the now deceased artist along with studio tools to further explain his intentions and see it firsthand.