Andrew Russeth

  • Sung Chankyung, One Lonely Pine Branch, 1980, nut, bolt, wood, paper, ink, 7 7⁄8 × 4 × 4".

    Sung Chankyung

    Sung Chankyung was a rare bird. A lauded poet and professor in South Korea, he created hundreds of sculptures—most small enough to cradle in one hand—using cast-off and quotidian materials. They are wry, inventive, even heartbreaking. Though he spent decades pursuing his practice, he rarely shared his works other than with his friends and family. This judiciously curated exhibition of about fifty pieces allowed a wider public to join that lucky group.

    Sung, who died in 2013 at eighty-two, once wrote that “rustling to make things” was his life’s greatest joy. His works radiate that pleasure, and

  • Mandy El-Sayegh, WALL, 2021, oil and mixed media on silk-screened linen, 74 × 47 1⁄4".

    Mandy El-Sayegh

    The new paintings that Mandy El-Sayegh offered up in “Protective Inscriptions,” her first solo show in South Korea, were jumbled, off-kilter, many-layered, and deeply discomfiting. They never cohered, not because they were actively rebelling against coherent composition, but because they seemed to be unaware that such coherency could exist. They were fields of disconnected actions and accretions of information, legible only in rare instances.

    El-Sayegh’s trademarks—tight grids (here, silk-screened in red and teal), thin veils of paint, collaged pages of the Financial Times—appeared in the six

  • Park Hyunki, Untitled, 1988/2021, monitors, stones, video (color, silent, 30 minutes 52 seconds). From the series “TV Stone Tower,” 1979–96. Installation view. Photo: Lee Young Min.

    Park Hyunki

    It is painful to imagine what Park Hyunki might have conjured in recent decades—as tools for making and showing video have proliferated—if the Osaka, Japan–born Korean artist had not died of cancer in 2000, at the age of only fifty-seven. Park, generally considered South Korea’s first video artist (Nam June Paik, ten years older, worked largely abroad), had by then produced an astonishing range of canny, profound work in that medium and beyond, as this concise exhibition, “I’m Not a Stone,” demonstrated. One suspects he had ideas to burn.

    On Gallery Hyundai’s top floor, a reconstruction of a

  • Lee Bul, Sorry for Suffering—You think I’m a puppy on a picnic?, 1990. Performance view, Tokyo, 1990. Lee Bul.

    Lee Bul

    BETWEEN 1988, when she was just twenty-four, and 1996, South Korean artist Lee Bul went on one of the great artistic streaks of recent decades, uncorking more than thirty heterogeneous performances that were incisive, uproarious, and sometimes harrowing. Through a canny marshaling of documentary materials, “Lee Bul: Beginning” offered a convincing and considered account of that legendary stretch, highlighting the artist’s unflinching challenges to gender inequity, militarism, and other enduring repressive scourges.

    Projected at monumental scale on the walls of a long, dark

  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–80, citywide performance with 8,500 Sanitation workers across all fifty-nine New York City Sanitation districts, April 15, 1980, Sweep, Manhattan 8. Photo: Deborah Freedman. © Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.
    slant March 24, 2020

    Maintenance Work

    THERE HAVE BEEN harrowing interviews with doctors, sobering podcast hits by experts, and on-the-ground reporting, but when it comes to images of the coronavirus pandemic, the defining ones have been almost entirely ancillary, at least a step removed from the actual devastation. That has made it difficult to grasp its human toll. Many funerals occur without mourners, the sick deserve their privacy, and cartoon renderings of COVID-19 baffle. And so the most visible images related to the crisis have been the time-lapse videos of China speedily building hospitals, the footage of Italians singing