Last September, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art purchased master artist Kim Whanki’s abstract painting Dawn #3 (created in 1964-5). With a price tag of $1.14 million, the oil painting now holds the title of having the highest price paid by the museum for a single work of art. Dawn #3, along with 120 of the 932 artworks that have been collected between 2013 and 2016—excluding pieces that have already been exhibited—are what make up the narrative of the latest exhibition at MMCA Seoul.
The title of the grandiose exhibition showcasing its recent highest-bid purchase is Samramansang: From Kim Whanki to Yang Fudong. Samramansang, which can be interpreted as “All things and phenomena of the universe,” reflects the changes and embraces the diversity of contemporary art. Viewers will be able to feel the effects of political and social transformations in the artworks as artists shift away from formalism and traditional mediums often found in Korean art history. Through this exhibition, MMCA aims to provide an overall understanding of the characteristics, aesthetics and concepts of contemporary Korean art.
The exhibitions as a whole is well devised into 5 sections, each focusing on a specific theme. Although all pieces making up the exhibition is displayed in an engaging manner (with some pieces being highly interactive), it is easy to get lost in the concept of each overall theme. It’s surely an ambitious exhibition by MMCA, judging the high number of artworks on display. But knowing that it will continue on until August, it might be a good idea to split it into parts to gain a better, more focused understanding of each theme. Doing the whole show in one go might be a little exhausting, even for those who consider themselves either artists, creative geniuses or art enthusiasts. Nonetheless, the show is a must visit for those who are curious to see the direction of Korean contemporary art.