Shinyoung Chung

  • 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

    “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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

  • Seo Hae-geun

    When Anselm Kiefer made his lead airplanes twenty years ago, they were laden, as were all of his creations, with metaphors of war, violence, history, and, ultimately, death. Distantly resembling the planes used in World War II air battles, Kiefer’s earthbound aircraft with a polyhedron on one wing (Melancholia, 1990–91) or with gigantic books made of lead sheets on both (Angel of History, 1989) eloquently insinuated the unbearable weight of a ruinous history and a reflection on the unending process of mourning. If Kiefer’s monumental installations were an effective prescription for those viewers

  • Lee Wan

    Adding to the characteristics that potentially qualify art objects as such—quality notwithstanding—it seems that weight has finally made the list. For the series “How to become us,” 2011, Lee Wan made assemblages using found objects under one condition—that each work weigh the same. Implementing this purely quantitative register as an artistic norm, Lee engages in a critique of standardized value systems in general. The artist collected sixty random used or discarded objects (mostly from secondhand stores in central Seoul), added up the weight of all the objects, then divided it

  • Inkie Whang

    There are miraculous moments in contemporary Asian art when a reconciliation of Eastern tradition and the Western avant-garde really does seem possible; Inkie Whang’s discovery of Lego blocks around 1994 and his systematic application of similar units on flat vertical surfaces since 2000 offer a good example. Whang chose images from the masterpieces of Korean and Chinese ink landscapes and digitized them (usually enlarging them in the process) so that the subtle brushstrokes and the ink’s nuances and gradations turned into a binary code, according to which the tiny square plastic blocks were

  • Suh Yongsun

    New York subway riders waiting at the Union Square station, café-goers in Melbourne, and the environs of the Brandenburg Gate appear as subjects among thirty-six paintings and six sculptures by Suh Yongsun at the Hakgojae Gallery. The style is a mix of Cubism, Fauvism, and Expressionism—a sort of synthesis of early- to midmodern manifestations. Suh’s stubborn insistence on such stylistic choices stands apart from the fundamentally Westernized mainstream trends in modern Korean art, which has been dominated by minimal abstraction from the 1960s through the ’80s, and since the ’90s by

  • Odani Motohiko

    Only in his late thirties, Odani Motohiko is already receiving star treatment, as confirmed once again by his exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, comprising some sixty works created since 1997. Having come of age in what he calls the transitional period—that is, between the eras dominated by analog and digital media—Odani shows his dexterity in modes ranging from traditional crafts and wooden sculptures to multimedia installation. His styles are as various as his references, which range from Michelangelo to horror movies and modern Japanese sculpture. Accordingly, this expansive selection

  • Roh Choong-hyun

    Until recently, the Seoul-based artist Roh Choong-hyun was focused on painting bleak yet poetic urban landscapes—riverside parks and zoos. But with the election of the right-wing conservative government in South Korea in 2008, Roh felt the need to respond to the uncomfortable political conditions; they triggered a “physical response,” as he puts it. In the thirteen works in his exhibition “Closed-Door Room,” Roh exploits confined spaces associated with repression and violence, most of which come from sites linked to recent Korean history.

    A typical new piece by Roh, Room (all works cited, 2009),

  • Oh Chi Gyun

    In 1989, Oh Chi Gyun was painting his naked body in the dim light of a television set in his dark Brooklyn apartment. Although he had just finished his MFA studies at Brooklyn College, New York, the previous year, the resulting nudes should not be dismissed as simple figure studies by a postgraduate student; their psychological density makes it clear they are anything but technical exercises. In them, we see the lean body of an Asian man in his early thirties—tense, perhaps desperate, yet resilient; he assumes poses like that of the crouching Discobolos or a coiled-up fetus, and often his figure

  • Daido Moriyama

    Digitization has brought big changes to the memory industry. One is the demise of analog photography with instant self-developing film, aka the Polaroid camera. The Polaroid Corporation discontinued the production of its film in 2008 (Fujifilm continues its line of instant-photo systems). Among those mourning the anticipated disappearance of the medium is Daido Moriyama. “For more than half a century, Polaroid enabled the dream for instantly visible pictures to become reality,” he writes. “I have to write this in the past tense because Polaroid ended the production of instant films this summer.

  • Jina Park

    Jina Park paints scenes from gallery openings, after-parties, and simple outings with her friends and colleagues; these casual images derive from personal engagements and social contacts and are wholly devoid of allegorical references or symbolism. Meyer Schapiro said of the early Impressionists that their subjects reflect “the conception of art as solely a field of individual enjoyment, without reference to ideas and motives”; Park’s vision resuscitates that spirit of art’s identification with leisure after a century of ideological qualms about what to paint or what could be painted.

    Although

  • Michael Lin

    In Michael Lin’s first solo show in Shanghai—two years following his arrival in the city—his usual colorful flowers and patterns were nowhere to be found. Lin seems to have discovered a new formula with which to transform the vernacular into the spectacular, using ready-made objects, video, music, and performance as an ensemble in his new work, What a Difference a Day Made, 2008.

    In his earlier work, Lin had appropriated ornamental flower patterns from Taiwanese or Japanese textiles and enlarged them to fit spaces of modern social engagement, and the work’s significance derived mostly from its

  • Sang Nam Lee

    When Roy Lichtenstein appeared on the scene in 1961, he was importing signs from an entirely different level of culture into the artistic arena; the culture was pulp comics, the signs benday dots and CMYK colors. What he did was to take a found image and, streamlining the visual information, transfer it onto white canvas. Sang Nam Lee’s approach is similar. He takes digitized graphic images from the computer screen and manually copies them onto canvas panels. Looking at Lee’s newest works, one imagines what Leo Castelli must have seen in Lichtenstein’s first Mickey Mouse—familiar icons with

  • Meekyoung Shin

    An artwork carries so many layers of meaning that sometimes you have to sniff them out; a painting is no longer simply a decoration for the wall, nor a vase merely an ornament on a mantelpiece. In her recent works titled Translation—Vase, 2007, Meekyoung Shin replicates different classical vases from Qing-period China and Joseon-dynasty Korea, using an unexpected material. Showcased on two floors of Mongin Art Center, a newcomer to the popular Samchung gallery district, Shin’s eighteen vases, eleven glass vessels, and nineteen Buddha statuettes stood looking deceptively authentic and solemn.