Shinyoung Chung

  • Yun Hyong-Kuen, Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue, 1999, oil on linen, 89 5⁄8 × 71 1⁄2".

    Yun Hyong-keun

    If, as Jürgen Habermas says, modernity “revolts against the normalizing functions of tradition,” one would analyze the works of artists such as Yun Hyong-keun (1928–2007)—whose chic, methodical paintings seem to be the embodiment of twentieth-century modernity—in purely formal terms. Yet things are not so simple when it comes to historical analysis. In his lifetime, Yun endured the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, followed by the vigorous anti-Communist politics of military dictatorship on the Cold War front line. In this context, the term modern is inherently laden with the impact

  • Sachiko Kazama, KUROBE GOLD, 2019, woodcut, 51 1⁄8 × 36".

    Sachiko Kazama

    Sachiko Kazama has long been committed to challenging the limitations of the woodcut medium. Her works bespeak a spectacular scope of vision: Small vignettes filled with minute details supplement dynamic central compositions on themes ranging from world war and natural disasters to Japanese politics and the Olympics. Full of vividly contrasting black and white, and sometimes extending up to twenty-one feet in length, her woodcuts are impactful, conveying an atmosphere of power and heroism.

    In Kazama’s recent exhibition “Cement Cemetery” these traits remained intact, yet the constituent works were

  • IM Heung-soon, Good Light, Good Air, 2018, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 42 minutes.

    IM Heung-soon

    IM Heung-soon has been using film and video to give voice to the voiceless since the late 1990s; he won the Venice Biennale Silver Lion in 2015 for one such work, Factory Complex, 2014. That film dealt mainly with the inhumane working conditions faced by female factory workers when the South Korean economy started to grow rapidly in the period following the Korean War. IM confronts issues of power, inequality, and the sovereignty of individuals as well as nation-states from the viewpoint of those at the bottom of social pyramid, people who suffered and often lost their lives struggling for what

  • Seulgi Lee, U: A pile of eggs =  A tricky situation, 2018, Korean silk, 76 3⁄4 × 61". From the series “Blanket Project U,” 2017–.

    Seulgi Lee

    Seulgi Lee reinvents folk artifacts from Korea and elsewhere, expanding on their symbolic status. Her maneuvers often reach back to premodern times, when material, image, language, shamanism, and the artisanal commingled in harmonious chaos.

    The most eye-catching works in Lee’s recent exhibition “damasese” were the nine pieces from her series “Blanket Project U,” begun in 2014, each a large geometric color field in the form of a Korean nubi blanket, a traditional type of densely quilted bedding. Lee designed the planar patterns to evoke a series of proverbs (giving the simplest forms to the words

  • Lee Woosung, Four of Us Gathered by Chance, and We Had Drinks, 2017, acrylic gouache and gesso on fabric, 86 5/8 x 86 5/8".

    Lee Woosung

    Many of Lee Woosung’s works are what he calls “cloth paintings,” unstretched works in acrylic gouache on large sheets of lightweight cotton or canvas. They recall the geolgae geurim, literally “hung paintings,” made by artist-activist collectives during the tumultuous period of nationwide student demonstrations in South Korea in the 1980s—massively scaled propaganda images on fabric. The social-realistic style of geolgae geurim and their political context derive from the minjung misul (people’s art) movement of that time, which protested South Korea’s dictatorial government. Taking a cue

  • Lee Kwang-Ho, Untitled 6901, 2013, oil on canvas, 8' 6" × 16'.

    Lee Kwang-Ho

    “Picturing Landscape,” Lee Kwang-Ho’s exhibition of eighteen new paintings, revealed his attempt to depict the Gotjawal Forest of Jeju Island, 280 miles south of Seoul in the southernmost part of Korea. Gotjawal literally means “bush forest” in local dialect, and the region is known to host a mixed vegetation system (with both tropical and polar flora—for instance, palms and evergreens) and abounds in vines and shrubs that cover trees and rocks and overflow onto the ground. Lee’s challenge in painting the Gotjawal was that—in contrast to his previous subjects, people and cacti—the

  • Jeong Zik Seong, 201438, 2014, acrylic and oil on canvas, 76 3/8 × 102".

    Jeong Zik Seong

    While an art student at Seoul National University more than twenty years ago, Jeong Zik Seong was a member of Photography Group Manifesto, which documented the protests of nearby residents who were forced to move when their dwellings were slated to be demolished to make way for urban-renewal projects. Now painting rather than taking photographs, she is still fascinated by the architectural transformations of the urban landscapes where she lives, and she remains just as concerned with the underprivileged. The thirty new paintings in her recent solo show “Constructive Abstract” transform the often

  • Hiraki Sawa, Lenticular, 2013, mixed-media assemblage with color video and sound (by Bun), 8 minutes 30 seconds.

    Hiraki Sawa

    Hiraki Sawa’s semiretrospective “Under the Box, Beyond the Bounds” featured twenty video works, ranging from his signature piece Dwelling, 2002, in which toy-size passenger planes take off and land elegantly inside a gray East London flat, to new installations that expand into spatial dimensions. Also, along the corridor leading into the darkened exhibition area, miniature plaster sculptures from 2013–14—casts of an ammonite, a metronome, and a broken teacup, for instance—and drawings for the design of the exhibition itself, also 2013–14, offered clues as to what to expect.

    Lineament

  • Aida Makoto, Art and Philosophy #2 “French, German, English,” 2011, three-channel HD video, color, sound, 15 minutes 26 seconds (French), 15 minutes 23 seconds (German), 13 minutes 50 seconds (English).

    Aida Makoto

    Japanese artist Aida Makoto plays the devil’s advocate, tweaking his nation’s collective conscience by opening a Pandora’s box of issues from which most of his compatriots typically avert their eyes. For example, his “War Picture Returns” series, 1995–2003, resuscitates gruesome events from the Pacific War, such as the Japanese occupation of Korea, the crushing imperialism imposed on regional neighbors under the fantastical guise of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the waste of countless young lives in a hopeless war effort. These paintings allude to the genre of “war pictures”

  • Akira Yamaguchi, Unforgettable Electric Poles, 2012, 
mixed media. Installation view.

    Akira Yamaguchi

    Visitors to Akira Yamaguchi’s recent show might not have noticed at first that five columns inside the gallery had been turned into a row of towering electric poles; the mock fixtures—transformer box, power lines, conductors, and so on—camouflage the upper half of each column so convincingly that the objects making up Unforgettable Electric Poles (all works 2012) seem quite real. Yet there was an estranging effect, as in a daydream: The tall glass wall surrounding the gallery emphasized that this was an interior space, underlining the displaced status of the poles. Abundant

  • Takashi Murakami, Welcome to Murakami-Ego, 2012, vinyl, fiber-reinforced plastic, polyamide, 19' 8 1/4“ x 17' 10 3/4” x 20' 5 1/4".

    Takashi Murakami

    Visitors were greeted on the way into the latest megashow by Takashi Murakami with Welcome to Murakami—Ego, 2012, a nearly twenty-foot-high balloon in the shape of the artist sitting down in his casual shorts and T-shirt. Crushed into the space, he was an extremely imposing presence, especially since the realism of the gigantic FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic) head can be equaled only by Madame Tussaud’s wax figures; his outstretched hand seems to demand the praise and worship due a supericon. Antithetical to the candy-colored Pop associated with the artist, this self-portrait is anything

  • Arata Isozaki, Incubation Process/Joint Core System, 1962/2011, mixed media, 48 x 95 5/8 x 13 3/4".

    Arata Isozaki

    Tokyo has recently seen a boom in architectural exhibitions at art venues, while a major newspaper featured a series of columns in which renowned Japanese architects commented on the recent and ongoing crises; their professional insights and supposed ability to materialize progressive visions of the near future seemed to give solace to those affected by the country’s experience of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe. Arata Isozaki, best known for his design of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, may have been better prepared intellectually for this situation than most. In his