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Upcoming: "Paint It, Black"

07.26 - 09.10.2024

Gallery Bisunjae is pleased to introduce “Paint It Black” by five Korean Artists. The exhibitions will run from July 26th - September 10th, 2024.

The exhibition theme centers around “Black,” drawing its title from The Rolling Stones’ 1966 song “Paint it Black,” which catapulted the band to fame and embodies a “modern attitude.” The sitar, an Indian instrument features prominently, lending a skeptical perspective on Western values and methods. The modern era has revealed its existential value in the journey of endless search for new ways of thinking. Nonetheless, concurrently, the generation embracing modernity has harbored skepticism towards tradition, finding contentment in a secularized form of sacredness. This exhibition evokes memories of artists from our nation born between the 1940s and 1960s, particularly those emerging around 1966. Gallery Bisunjae Director Jang Nack Soon curated this exhibition to newly illuminate the personal significance of individuals who experienced both suffering and joy in their relentless quest, capturing the era's atmosphere through the compelled monochromatic paintings.

The exhibition features artists Shin Ki Ock (1941-), Choi Myoung young (1941-), Kim Ho-deuk (1950-), Choi Dunam (1953-), and Ahn Mija (1962-). Shin Ki Ock was 26 years old when the song "Paint it Black" achieved unprecedented global success. As a founding member of Origin, Shin Ki Ock navigated the ocean of contemporary art, grappling with the tensions between ideals and practicality. Nonetheless, he asserted his identity as a painter by pioneering a distinctive style of abstraction.

At the height of the song’s popularity, Choi Myoung Young was 26 years old. In 1967, he took part in the then renowned Korean Young Artists Coalition Exhibition and represented Korea at the 5th Paris Biennale. During this time, intellectuals and artists from Western Europe and America were enjoying an era marked by post-war healing and entering a period of significant prosperity. During this period, there was also a time for contemplating past imperialism and adopting new perspectives on human rights issues. Intellectuals of the era were deeply engaged in exploring the true essence of human rights, philanthropy, peace, and freedom. Experiencing this atmosphere firsthand in the West, Choi Myoung Young explored what aspects of modernity East Asian intellectuals, especially Koreans, should prioritize and how to harmonize this modernity with the longstanding painterly traditions passed down through generations. Given this context, we can infer that the artist's current historical accomplishments were anticipated by the relentless dedication, planning, and efforts he put forth during his twenties.

In 1966, Kim Ho-deuk was a student at Seoul Arts High School, having relocated from Daegu to Seoul where he quickly made a name for himself in this unfamiliar setting. He subsequently pursued studies in the Painting Department at Seoul National University and is recognized for his mastery in both Western and Eastern painting traditions. After transitioning to Eastern painting, Kim Ho-deuk adapted the East Asian aesthetics of “yibi huizhi (一筆揮之, calligraphic mastery with a single stroke)” and “qiyun shengdong (氣韻生動, spiritual resonance)” into a contemporary style.

At the age of 14, Choi Dunam was a middle school student. He majored in architecture at UC Berkeley and Harvard University, where he distinguished himself as both an architect and an educator. Simultaneously, he pursued a career in painting. Despite his extensive understanding of Western culture, he conveys lyrical abstraction by transforming all subjects into elements of nature.

Born in 1962, Ahn Mija likely did not fully experience the atmosphere surrounding the release of that song. Nonetheless, her ongoing series Seongseong Jeokjeok (惺惺寂寂) dramatizes introspective contemplation by infusing cotton fabric with the depth of ink. “Seongseong (惺惺)” denotes enlightenment, while "jeokjeok (寂寂)" symbolizes a pure state where desires are controlled. However, since these moments are not permanent, continuous renewal (日新) is required. This commitment drives the artist to dedicate herself to this ongoing series.

Around 2800 years ago, Shi Bo (史伯, 806 B.C.–771 B.C.) was a prominent philosopher of the Western Zhou period, living before Confucius. He analyzed the origins of aesthetic consciousness using the dichotomy of harmony (和) and conformity (同). An excerpt from the classic East Asian text, Guo Yu (國語), includes his view:

Shi Bo stated: “While harmony (和) fosters the growth of all things (森羅萬象), it ceases to exist when there is conformity (同). Harmony (和) occurs when one thing harmonizes with another (平), allowing all things to grow in abundance and return to their original states. However, if conformity (同) is supplemented with more conformity (同), it will eventually lead to destruction (破棄).”

Conformity (同) refers to the combination of objects with similar qualities, while harmony (和) signifies the combination and compatibility of objects with dissimilar qualities. Harmony (和) is considered positive because it successfully harmonizes diverse elements, whereas conformity (同) does not support or enhance and ultimately leads to destruction (破棄). In this context, the exhibition Paint it Black offers a philosophical reflection on conformity (同), contrasting with traditional canon reasoning. It suggests that Paint it Black represents an achievement beyond the aesthetic principle of harmony (和), which has been historically embodied in Dansaekhwa, as this new discourse of conformity (同) surpasses the conventional notion of harmony (和).

Lee Jinmyung / Outside Director of Gallery Bisunjae & Doctor of Philosophy

Exhibition Gallery

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