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Exhibition review: Far East Fine Art at the Mall Galleries

The debut exhibition by Far East Fine Art, a joint venture between a Brit experienced in the gallery market and a Korean with access to artists in South Korea, shows promise for the future.

The choice of location was deliberate – central and high profile, and, for a start-up venture like this, offering the flexibility of space available by the week rather than being tied to the overhead of a permanent gallery space.

Far East Fine Art is entering a growing market. Apart from I-MYU which has been championing young Korean artists for nearly three years now, LKL hears of two other Koreans who are planning on opening separate London gallery spaces, in addition to more mainstream galleries such as Sesame, Union and Albemarle which have strong Korean connections. Whether longer term there is room for everyone remains to be seen, but on the basis of the work on show at the Mall Galleries, if you have the venue, the mailing list and the artists you’ve got the makings of an interesting exhibition.

The artists on show were, as far as LKL is aware, all new to the London gallery scene. And while the photographs of Sonn Jong-jin were rather too similar to those of Koh Sang-woo which made such a colourful splash in London last year, there was plenty else in the group show that was new and different. The mirrored glass work of Kim Jun-ki were possibly the most eye-catching, whether depicting colourful contemporary images or representations of contemplative Buddhist work.

In a slightly more traditional vein were the childlike folk painting of Jung Young-mo and the quiet landscapes of Lim Tae-gyu, in a restrained, monochrome style delineating the beauties of the Tong river valley; these contrasted with the more colourful landscapes of Shin Hyun-dae which looked more Western in style except for the tiny sparkles in the pigments made of ground stones, and the naïf forest paintings of Youn Hyun-sook.

Seo Jung-hak
Seo Jung-hak

For this reviewer, the works which caught attention the most were the paper sculptures of Seo Jung-hak. Composite pictures were built up of elements made of tightly-compacted layers or scrolls of scrap paper. The results were peaceful to look at, and one in particular recalled the undulating lines of a hanok roof.

A promising start, then, and we look forward to more new artists from this source.

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