10 Korean Artists You Should Know
Korean art has been experiencing a very strong craze for several decades. Driven by the economic boom of the country, it has been able to internationalize and make itself known throughout the world. With Artsper, let’s discover 10 Korean artists you should to know.
1- Nam June Paik, video art
Nam June Paik (1932-2006) is undoubtedly the most famous Korean artist in the world. He is considered the founder of video art in the early 1960s. Through installations of TV screens, he questions our relationship to technology and information. However, despite being born in Korea, he has spent most of his life abroad. First in Japan, then in Germany, and finally in the United States. He befriends other artists of his generation, such as John Cage. He also participates in the birth of Fluxus, a movement that mixes music, performance, plastic art and writing.
2- Lee Ufan, Korean Zen Art
Lee Ufan (1936-) is a Korean artist known worldwide for his paintings depicting the mark of a brush whose color fades… Yet his practice goes far beyond that! He creates performances, sculptures and installations, which always question a certain “state of being”. He is influenced by Zen and Asian philosophy, but has also drawn heavily on Western thought. Among his favorite subjects: observing the intimate, conflicting or poetic relationship between natural and artificial elements.
3- Song Hyun-Sook, Korean and Western art
Song Hyun-Sook (1952-) is a Korean painter. With her, each brushstroke tells a story, a journey. She weaves links between Korean art and Western art. On the one hand, it expresses that almost meditative state of concentration that exists in the art of calligraphy. On the other hand, she uses tempera, a typically European oil painting technique, to create patterns that immerse the viewer in reality and the present moment.
4- Haegue Yang, the avant-garde of Korean art
Haegue Yang (1971-) is representative of the new generation of Korean art. She is an accomplished and international artist. She notably represented Korea at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and participated to the prestigious dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel in 2012. In her works, which flirt with conceptual art, she explores myths and stories, that touch on the universal. She appropriates them through sculptures, installations, performances, and video.
5- Lee Bae, the Soulages of Korean Art
Lee Bae (1956-) is a Korean abstract artist. Like Soulages, for whom black is a color, he explores the almost infinite possibilities of black. He sinks into the abyss of darkness. Until recently, he mainly used charred materials to paint his canvases. In doing so, he offered a powerful metaphor for the cycle of life.
6- Bae Bien-U, photographer
Bae Bien-U (1950-) is an iconic Korean photographer. Not only because his works are celebrated and exhibited around the world. But also because his photographs are typically Korean, with an almost meditative preoccupation for the link between man and nature. Through his panoramic photographs, he represents nature with strong contrasts and very structured lines. The mind gets lost in this organic labyrinth and lets itself be transported…
7- Choi Xooang, Hyperreal Korean Art
With his painted resin characters, Choi Xooang (1975-) created a galaxy of almost mutant characters. Whether naked, bald, or fully clothed, each time they manage to tell us a story. They express strong human emotions such as fear, desire or pain. But no anecdote disturbs our reading. They acquire an almost allegorical nature, although their strangeness still leaves an uncanny flavor…
8- Seo-Bo Park, Korean abstraction
Seo-Bo Park (1931-) is one of the best known Korean artists. He is emblematic of the monochrome Dansaekhwa movement. A current that synthesizes the traditional Korean spirit and Western abstraction. In a way, he is very close to minimalist artists, choosing neutral tones to highlight components and fabrics.
9- Lee Bul, against stereotypes
Lee Bul (1964-) is one of the major figures on the contemporary Korean art scene. Through performance, she questions the relationship to her own body and challenges stereotypes about Asian women. She creates disturbing works, sometimes troubling, but always very beautiful and poetic. She benefited from a strong exposure at the MoMa, the Guggenheim, the Venice Biennale, and in most major contemporary art venues.
10- Wook-kyung Choi, the outcast
Wook-kyung Choi (1940-1985) is an outcast in the history of contemporary Korean art. She is an abstract painter. But most Korean abstract painters shine in Dansaekhwa: the Korean monochrome. She, on the contrary, is mainly influenced by expressionism. Brutally, instinctively, aggressively, she throws the colours on the canvas. She seeks to immerse herself in the moment, and to create true, pure, expressive forms. Thus, it plays a capital role for the diversity of Korean abstract art.
Between abstraction and storytelling art, traditions and global influences, Korean art has developed in many directions. And its boom is not about to stop!
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