A look at some of the Korean artists featured at Start Art Fair 2016

by Philip Gowman on 25 September, 2016

in Event reports and reviews, Exhibition reviews and comment, Kim Jae-il, Lee Young-min, Lee Yun-hee, Park Hyo-jin, Park Myung-hee, Skipwiths

Start collage

No matter how much preparation you put into visiting an art fair – planning which stalls to visit, estimating how much time you are likely to spend at each – you will almost always end up spending your time differently from the way you originally intended: some stalls will engage you in conversation, telling you about the artists and their work; others may be less proactive, or may have brought different works and artists from those advertised in advance. There may also be last minute entrants or invitees, not advertised on the website.

Lee Yun Hee, ‘La Divina Commedia’, porcelain, 29 x 29 x 12 cm each. Image courtesy the artist and Art Projects Gallery.

Lee Yun Hee, ‘La Divina Commedia’, porcelain, 29 x 29 x 12 cm each. Image courtesy the artist and Art Projects Gallery.

London-trained Korean photographer Phoebe Junghee Shin was one such unadvertised exhibitor, showing a range of digital prints combining Korean architectural features with icons of western commercialism. Similarly there was a stall of work by ceramic artist Lee Yun Hee, on a theme of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Her work first caught our eye at the London Art Fair earlier this year.

Myunghee Park: Bliss (2016) Ottchil, wood, mud powder, mother-of-pearl, 117 x 80.5 x 4 cm. (Mookji Art Collaboration)

Myunghee Park: Bliss (2016) Ottchil, wood, mud powder, mother-of-pearl, 117 x 80.5 x 4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mookji Art Collaboration

Of the galleries visiting from Asia, I spent by far the most time with Mookji Art Collaboration, who despite being Korean are located in Shanghai and Changzhou. Two artists in particular caught our attention: Park Myunghee’s painstaking and beautiful work in lacquer and mother of pearl. Her Bliss (2016) recalled Kim Whanki’s blue dot compositions, but were of course much more tactile because of the materials used.

Youngmin Lee: SABAL (old but new) (2016) Oil on canvas, 97 x 97 cm. (Mookji Art Collaboration)

Youngmin Lee: SABAL (old but new) (2016) Oil on canvas, 97 x 97 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mookji Art Collaboration

The other artist was Lee Youngmin – again showing painstaking attention to detail: his studies of ceramic bowls and vases were overlaid by an intricate craquelure formed out of multiple layers of paint applied with ultra-fine brush strokes.

Kim Jae Il: Vestige (halo), 2016 (Skipwiths)

Kim Jae Il: Vestige (halo), 100x90x4.5cm, acrylic on fiberglass resin 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Skipwiths

Of course, we also spent time with Skipwiths who were majoring on Park Hyojin, Chun Kwang-young and Kim Jae Il. Kim’s elaborate cosmic designs with mysterious names such as Vestige were drawing attention not least because the organisers had used one of the works as the banner image of the whole fair, adorning the website, front cover of the official programme, document wallets and other materials. But the works that were causing people to stop the longest were Park Hyojin’s three digital prints, exhibited alongside the sculptures they represented. Very striking works, and wonderful to see alongside the originals.

Hyojin Park: Desire (2015) (Skipwiths)

Hyojin Park: Desire (2015) Image courtesy the artist and Skipwiths

Thanks to Grey Skipwith for the invitation to the fair. Much appreciated. You were tantalisingly tight-lipped about the projects you were working on with a couple of museums. I hope they come to fruition soon.

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