Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Contemporary Korean Art - some artists to watch!

I heard Korea had an interesting contemporary art scene, and as I started to check it out, I found it to be a very interesting mix of deep-seated traditional restraint with modern aesthetics.

The output of Korean art was disrupted a great deal by the Korean War, however the ensuing economic development lead to a burgeoning of creativity amongst young Korean artists.  Many traveled to the west to  study, and then returned to Korea to reconcile their deep seated traditionalism with modern innovation. These artists often speak about issues of globalization, alienation, materialization, loss or hybridization of identity, and other such modern concepts.

Here are a few contemporary artists I have learned about recently:

Gwon Osang

Gwon Osang creates life-size sculptures using photographic images. The result is both literally photo-realistic, and also a bit surreal.  His creations become most human when their expressions and gestures are examined.

Choi Jeonghwa

While referencing pop culture, Choi Jeonghwa uses a variety of media, included molded plastic and inflatable sculptures.  Choi's work often features mass-produced objects, commenting on South Korea's involvement as a point of origin for many disposable consumer goods. 

Do-ho Suh


Do-ho Suh's work features depictions of the literal and figurative "little people." Defying conventional understanding of scale, Suh's works frequently engage visitors and are designed with site-specificity in mind, drawing the viewer's attention to their own interaction with the pieces. 

In Floor, thousands of plastic miniature human figurines support a thick glass floor, creating an anonymous, faceless mass.


Some/one (detail)
 Some/one is a traditional Korean garment fashioned out of thousands of nickel-plated dogtags, commenting on the relationship of individual soldiers to the larger organization of the South Korean military. This piece blends traditional fashion and dress with associations to Korean military service, which is particularly notable when considering the conscription policy which requires all Korean men (including this artist) to serve two years in the armed forces.


  1. Dude, this is awesome! I love the giant foot about to crush everyone!

  2. Interesting! I get this art.

  3. I too like these samples as they are interesting yet are extremely accessible. You don't feel like you are on the outside (no explanation required).