Seoul stands in good company as one of the most exciting art scenes in Asia. It’s the largest city in South Korea and second most populated city in the world, with 24.4 million people at a density of 17,288 per square km. The city modernised extremely quickly in the second half of the 20th century and its musical, filmic and artistic outputs are now extremely popular worldwide. Ever since Nam June Paik’s pioneering video installation art came to fruition in the 1960’s, Seoul has been an emerging nexus of contemporary art. At Unit London we’re increasingly interested in these developments: we have an affiliation with the wonderful Kwang Sung Park who is currently exhibiting as part of our group show Beyond Borders; and earlier this week we wrote about our excitement at the Connect BTS project. Here, we take a brief look at some of Seoul’s younger artists.
JeeYoung Lee (b. 1983)
Panic Room, 2010
Lee is a photographer and installation artist. She spends months creating surreal dreamscapes within her 3 x 6m studio. The artist then takes up position somewhere within this environment and becomes the subject of her own photography, resulting in beautiful hypnagogic self-portraits. However, these self-portraits are never revealing, Lee’s face is often obscured and the work begins to represent a quest for identity within one’s own consciousness.
So Kim (b. 1995)
Portrait of Fish, 2019, acryclic on canvas
So Kim is a South Korean multi-disciplinary artist living and working in New York. She received a BFA in Fine Arts from the Parsons School of Design. Kim’s work aims to portray her inner feelings – often through anthropomorphic animals. She reflects on the solitude of self and how we’re all tethered to our own recurring memories which have become hackneyed and banal over time.
KwangHo Shin (b. 1983)
Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas
KwangHo Shin, who featured on Saatchi art’s “one to watch” list, has made a colourful splash in international art circles. Influenced by German expressionism and the work of Joseph Lee, Shin’s portraits are gestural, absorbing experiments with distortion, exaggeration and mesmerising colour.
Jin Joo Chae (b. 1981)
Known for her “Choco pie” works, Jin Joo Chae uses melted chocolate as a means to shed light on political issues and human rights abuses in North Korea. To create these thought-provoking works Chae uses melted chocolate as a kind of ink, screen printing chocolate words and images on to the pages of the North Korean Workers’ Newspaper.