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A brief tour of the Korean galleries at Art 14

Korean artists and galleries put on a good show at Art14, and got plenty of attention from the press.

Choi Jeong-hwa: Alchemy (2014)
Choi Jeong-hwa: Alchemy (2014) (Pearl Lam Gallery)

Time Out spotted (they were hard to miss) Choi Jeong-hwa’s huge collection of colourful pieces which looked like giant hubble-bubbles, installed at Hong Kong’s Pearl Lam Galleries. Also recommended in the same article was 43 Inverness Street and Kim Ha-young’s Modern Soup. In fact, Time Out seem to have taken Kim Ha-young to their hearts, having recommended her solo show at 43 Inverness Street recently. Those in search of affordable work by Kim could have stopped off at the Royal Academy of Arts stall, where prints of one of her works were on sale for £450.

Kim Ha-young: Modern Soup (2014
Kim Ha-young: Modern Soup (2014). 50 x50cm, acrylic on polyester canvas. At 43 Inverness Street

Also at the 43 Inverness Street stand was a composite photograph of Busan, by Oak Jungho. This caught the eye of many a passer-by, who typically thought the scenery was that of Rio de Janeiro, not Busan.

Video works by Park June-bum at Hanmi Gallery
Video works by Park June-bum at Hanmi Gallery

In the Emerge section, Hanmi Gallery was creating a lot of buzz with Park June-bum’s video work and Yun Sung-feel’s kinetic installations. These were featured in Apollo Magazine’s write-up of the fair. Opposite Hanmi was HADA Contemporary, whose stall and works by Chung Heeseung were highlighted by Artlyst.

Chung Heeseung: Curtain (2013)
Chung Heeseung: Curtain (2013). (HADA Contemporary)

While Choi Jeong-hwa had two galleries touting his work last year, this time I could only find one (the Hong Kong one). But it’s always interesting to see artists who are being shown by more than one gallery. Hakgojae and Purdy Hicks were showing almost identical works by Lee Young-bin – peaceful but painstaking drawings of a Korean bath-house. I wonder what was the difference in prices.

Lee Young-bin: Bath (2011)
Lee Young-bin: Bath (2011). Korean ink and watercolor on paper, 128 x 159cm (at Purdy Hicks)

Choi and Lager (one of the “stand out” galleries for Artlyst) were showing Baik Hyunjhin and Lee Seahyun; and Lee was also to be found at Hakgojae.

Close-up of a detail of a Lee Sea-hyun Between Red painting
Close-up of a detail of a Lee Sea-hyun Between Red painting at Choi & Lager. That reflection looks remarkably like Solseom…

Gallery K.O.N.G were showing Min Jungyeon, whose work you could find at HADA Contemporary last year. Also at Gallery K.O.N.G. was work by Michael Kenna, a British photographer who works in Korea, and over whose photograph of Solseom (Kangwondo) the gallery is currently battling with Korean Air. But probably the most eyecatching of the works in the gallery’s display were a collection of four phographs by Koo Bohnchang which looked like they could have been of boiled sweets, but were actually of soap.

Work by Ahn Doo-jin at Lee Hwaik Gallery
Work by Ahn Doo-jin at Lee Hwaik Gallery

If the striking was what you sought, you certainly got it at Lee Hwaik. The eye-popping colours of Ahn Doo-jin (so different from his installation work, Fault Lines, at Korean Eye 2012) even drew the attention away from Shin Meekyoung’s red Ghost Series soap vases and Kim Dong-yoo’s pop art image of Audrey Hepburn composed of tiny pictures of Gregory Peck. More restful to look at were the mother-of-pearl works by Kim Duck-yong and the calm interiors of Jeong Bo-young, also featured by the gallery last year.

Three works by Yun Suk-nam
Three works by Yun Suk-nam (Hakgojae Gallery)

One of the surprise highlights for me were the beautiful works in wood by Yun Suk-nam at Hakgojae. Other people thought the same – two of the three had sold by the time I got there for my second visit on Saturday. Hakgojae’s stable also contained video work from Lee Lee Nam, one of Hong Kyoung-tack’s vibrant book / library paintings, the meticulous but diaphanous brushstrokes of Song Hyun-sook, and stunning black and white photographs of snow-covered woodlands on Seoraksan by Boomoon.

It was a shame that two major Korean galleries (Gana Art and Cais) decided not to return to London this year. They showed interesting and varied work in Art13, but maybe they did not generate the sales that make the expensive trip worthwhile (it hardly seems likely that they applied but didn’t pass the vetting process). Arario, however, came for the first time, bringing with them some of the tiny grotesque sculptures by Lee Dong-wook.

Inside Olympia Grand
Inside Olympia Grand

But there were others who did return. Apart from Lee Hwaik and Hakgojae, the Daegu Art Museum, Gallery SoSo and Gallery Em all made the long journey again. And from London, Albemarle and Shine Artists again showed a strong collection of work by their stable of artists. As last year, there was plenty to see wherever you looked, and the crowds who attended are testament to the success of the Fair which is now a fixture in London’s art calendar.

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