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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Choi Jeong-hwa Welcome in Wolverhampton

Choi Jeong-hwaIn his first solo show in a UK public gallery, Choi Jeong-hwa’s exhibition, Welcome, is also one of the first shows to be held in Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s new exhibition space.

Choi has celebrated by wrapping the gallery in bright-coloured ribbons (below left) – a project reminiscent of his installation as part of the Seoul Until Now! group exhibition in Copenhagen (2005), when he wrapped the Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall with discarded commercial banners.

Choi (born in 1961), sometimes known as Korea’s “pop artist”, is also an architect and designer. He designed the set for Park Chul-soo’s 1995 food-obsession film 301, 302, and created the interior for the Botticelli fashion boutique in Seoul’s trendy Apkujong-dong1. He is one of Korea’s more prominent artists, having participated in Korea’s pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Wolverhampton is at least his third appearance in the UK, since he adorned Liverpool’s Lime Street station in 2004 as part of their biennial festival of contemporary art, and participated in the group show Through the Looking Glass in Asia House, London.

From the press release:

Choi Jeong Hwa’s work draws its inspiration from influences as wide ranging as the Black Country’s industrial heritage, Asian weddings, Caribbean carnivals and charity shops, engaging with the local area. Dominating the gallery’s new atrium space will be an imposing ‘chimney’ built from cheap, mass-produced, black plastic baskets. Alongside this striking centrepiece, Choi Jeong Hwa will also show Caribbean carnival costumes and traditional Korean dress to celebrate the cultural diversity of the city and region.

Choi Jeong Hwa is an artist concerned with the fundamental functions and roles of art. He explores the theme in this exhibition by bringing together a unique mixture of objects and works from twenty-five other contemporary Korean artists, from the collections of Wayne Hemmingway and Stella Mitchell, New Art Gallery Walsall, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the Frank Cohen Collection, The University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s own collection. These objects, including work by Korean avant-garde artist Lee Seung Taek, Andy Warhol, Joe Tilson, Gavin Turk, Vladimir Tretchikoff and Margaret Keane, will be juxtaposed against work from emerging art students, Egyptian sculpture, Victorian genre painting, African hair combs, and contemporary furniture by designers Pottinger and Cole. The unusual combinations of old and new, unknown and established, manufactured and bespoke create an alternative context in which the original value of the objects is questioned

This exhibition asks why objects are worthy of collection and explores the value of popular, mass-produced and commercial objects. This ‘fake museum’ concept continues throughout the gallery with whimsical interventions by the artist appearing within Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s permanent collections.

Cabinets will display a ‘People’s Silverware Collection’, a mixture of objects from the Gallery’s Elkington plate collection, silverware borrowed from local people’s homes and plastic items wrapped in silver foil. This demonstrates the importance Choi Jeong Hwa places on community involvement, in his work, making connections with Wolverhampton and the locale.

Welcome combines these installations and commissions with some of Choi Jeong Hwa’s better known and loved pieces such as Lotus (2005), shown at the Korean pavilion at the Venice Biennale and his giant pile of plastic magnets in 2005 which will invite the public to create their own art. His work will be visible not only to gallery visitors, as he puts his unique stamp on the building’s exterior, wrapping the Victorian structure with huge lengths of fluorescent material, tied in diagonal strands, spanning the full height of the gallery.

Welcome has been co-curated by Kate Pryor of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Jiyoon Lee, who also curated the Asia House exhibition and co-curated Seoul Until Now!.

Welcome runs from 23 June to 1 September 2007.


  1. Source: J Scott Burgeson, Korea Bug []

(automatically generated) We didn’t review this event, but Williams Fallows on Flickr did, here.

2 thoughts on “Choi Jeong-hwa Welcome in Wolverhampton

  1. Actually Choi’s not the first Korean artist to have a solo show at a UK public gallery. Do Ho Suh had a highly successful show at the Serpentine a few years back. And Lee Bul had one at the CCA Glasgow even further back than that.

  2. Thanks for the correction Withnail. Either I had misread the Wolverhampton website, or I had got the idea from somewhere else, but I definitely had the idea in my head that this was claimed to be the first solo exhibition by a Korean in a UK public gallery. As I didn’t 100% believe the claim I slightly diluted the statement in the first version of this post, which read

    In what is believed to be the first time a Korean contemporary artist has had a solo exhibition in a UK public gallery.

    I’ve now redrafted the first sentence to reflect the slightly less controversial claim that this is Choi’s first show in a UK public space. Thanks again for the info.

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