Seoul

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

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

Yun Hyong-keun

PKM Gallery

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 of one colonization after another; Yun’s works have been interpreted as containing so much history (postcolonialist, anti-Communist, Western-influenced) that critics have almost neglected to point out how the artist overcame traditional aesthetic notions using pure formal and plastic means.

Accordingly,

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