Late March, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea unveiled the first in a series of annual exhibitions at its two locations in Gwacheon and Deoksugung Palace. Kim Chong Hak, renowned for his paintings of Seorak Mountain, is the subject of a retrospective at the museum’s Gwacheon Annex. Meanwhile the Deoksugung Annex is hosting a special exhibition of works drawn from the museum’s permanent collection cleverly juxtaposed with a sense of wit and an artistic twist.
Kim Chong Hak Retrospective at National Museum of Contemporary Art (Address: 313 Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do)
A major retrospective surveying the accomplishments of one of the most preeminent Korean artists, Kim Chong Hak (b. 1937), is currently on view at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Their exhibition hall in Gwacheon brings together the thematic representations of his oeuvre, from early works influenced by the “art informel” movement to the artist’s famous flower paintings.
(left) Kim Chong Hak, No.2 (Forsythia and the Moon), 2006, acrylic on canvas, 112×145.5cm (right) Kim Chong Hak, Summer Stream, 2005, acrylic on canvas, 197×256cm (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art)
Kim, who is best known for his flamboyant depiction of the seasons on Seorak Mountain, followed a different path than his fellow artists. At first, Kim made abstract art like most of his contemporaries, including Park Seo-bo, Youn Myeung-ro and Kim Tschang Yeul. However, in the late 70s, he started making colorful paintings with expressive brush strokes to show the beauty of nature.
According to Kim, he first discovered his real artistic calling in 1979, after leaving the city to live in relative seclusion on Seorak Mountain. During the press preview, he said that the wild flowers blooming in the mountains cured him of his sorrows and loneliness.
(left) Kim Chong Hak, Autumn Sunset, 1980, oil on canvas, 97×130cm (right) Kim Chong Hak, White Mountain, 2008, oil on canvas, 130×162cm (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art)
Although his landscape paintings were criticized when abstract art and monochrome paintings flourished, he never abandoned his own style. The artist is now acknowledged to have had a profound impact on Korean contemporary art by providing an alternative to monochrome abstraction. Kim said that people can concentrate too much on ideology in abstract art, while there are infinite possibilities when drawing natural beauty.
The exhibit presents dozens of large scale paintings spanning a half century of Kim’s career, as well as rare portrait pieces and letters with drawings he exchanged with his children. Also among the 78 works on show is the artist’s woodcut print that won an award in 1966 at the 5th International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo.
(left) Kang Un-gu, Painter Kim Chong Hak at his Studio in Mt. Seorak, 2008, photograph (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art) (right) Kim Chong Hak, Faces, 1992, acrylic on paper (detailed view) (photographed by Hwang Dana)
The National Museum of Contemporary Art has organized a series of special exhibitions to focus on Korean art and artists, including the Kim Chong Hak retrospective. The exhibition runs through June 26. Admission is 3,000 won for adults and 1,500 won for youth. The museum is closed on Mondays.
“Abstract it!” at the Deoksugung Palace Annex of National Museum of Contemporary Art (Address: 5-1 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul)
The National Museum of Contemporary Art is currently hosting a special exhibition titled “Abstract it!: A New Interpretation of the National Museum of Contemporary Art's Modern Art Works” at its Deoksugung Palace branch.
Hwang Yong-jin, Good Morning 0501, 2005, oil on plywood, neon, 122 x 244 cm (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Contemporary Art)
This exhibition, organized in close collaboration with guest curator Yoo Jin-sang, aims to better represent the museum collection, using the eye of an external curator. While chronological factors and artistic styles usually help determine the main themes of previous exhibitions, “Abstract it!” brings a panoramic view of contemporary art and puts the audience at the center.
The exhibition offers viewers an opportunity to engage with art in a neutral setting where only the bare minimum of information needed to understand the pieces is given. The curator is intentionally leaving out related historical background information, including the labeling tags, to maximize visitors’ imagination and appreciation. Yoo hopes that audiences will simply enjoy discovering the “hidden” relationship among the works of art without chronological reference or relations attached to each work and dictating how the viewer should receive them.
Abstract it! A New Interpretation of the National Museum of Contemporary Art's Modern Art Works at Deoksugung Palace Annex (photographed by Hwang Dana)
The current exhibition, which gives a twist to the clichés of today’s art history, features a portfolio of publicly acclaimed domestic and international artists. Featured artists include renowned Korean artists Kim Tschang Yeul, Park Seo-bo, and Lee Ufan alongside international artists like Marcel Duchamp and Louise Bourgeois. The exhibition runs through May 10. Admission is 4,000 won for adults and the museum is closed on Mondays.
For more information, please call +82 (0)2 2188 6114, or visit the official website at: www.moca.go.kr/engN (Korean and English).