Exhibition visit: Korean highlights of London Art Fair 2015

This year LKL avoided the crowded opening evening of the London Art Fair, opting for a quieter evening later in the week. It’s something we’ll do in future. There still seem to be waiters wandering round offering free drinks, but with fewer punters around you can actually move between the galleries you want to see without having to circumnavigate the people who only seem to be there to schmooze, giving you more time to look at the art. So here are LKL’s pick of this year’s fair.

The Business Design Centre, home of the London Art Fair
The Business Design Centre, home of the London Art Fair

There were two new galleries we were keen to see, and it was also good to see some long-standing participants who never fail to give pleasure. The first stall you come to on entering – a spot they have occupied for the last couple of years – is Union Gallery / Choi and Lager. As in previous years, they brought along some Yu Jinyoung, a sculptor whose work appears more heart-breaking every time you see it.

Yu Jinyoung: I'm OK - 3, Detail, 2009  PVC, Mixed Media
Yu Jinyoung: I’m OK – 3, Detail, 2009 PVC, Mixed Media (courtesy of the gallery and artist)

They also had a colourful oil by Kim Younghun, who most recently was exhibiting with HADA Contemporary. Shine Artists presented work by their regular stable of artists. It was a nice surprise to see a new work by Lee Jeongwoong, who hadn’t appeared in the list of artists to be shown at the fair. His oils which fuse elements from Joseon dynasty Korea with the aesthetics of Lawrence Alma-Tadema always make for enjoyable viewing.

Lee Jeongwoong: Rain Stopped (2013)
Lee Jeongwoong: Rain Stopped (2013). Oil on Canvas. 112 x 162 cm. Courtesy of the gallery and artist

At Able Fine Art, I was expecting Park Dae-cho’s arresting photographs to be garnering attention, but none were on show. Instead, the intriguing 3-D lenticular work by Hong Sungyong was creating considerable buzz. Impossible to reproduce in a normal jpg, this images had visitors endlessly fascinated as they tried to get different views of the galaxies which seemed to lie behind the surface of the work.

Sungyong Hong: Heuristic 4 (2013)
Sungyong Hong: Heuristic 4 (2013) 3D Lenticular Print (Courtesy of the gallery and artist)

The more restrained creations of Lee Kwanwoo which formed images of Buddha using traditional Korean seals as pixels, were also generating interest, but Able would have been a hit with the punters just by bringing Hong Sungyong.

Changkyum Kim, Water Shadow Four Seasons 2, 2013-2014
Changkyum Kim, Water Shadow Four Seasons 2, 2013-2014. Video installation, 13 min. (Courtesy of the gallery and artist)

For Artlyst, Hanmi Gallery was one of the highlights, and in particular Kim Changkyum’s video work of reflections in a pond experiencing Korea’s four distinct seasons, projected into a stone basin. It certainly encouraged you to linger, as did Mioon’s video works of famous statues – such as Yi Sun-shin in Gwanghwamun, or of Kim Dae-jung in Muan, Jeollanamdo – which at first seemed still, but then moved imperceptibly as if they had been replaced by street performers.

Installation view of two of Mioon's video works
Installation view of two of Mioon’s video works (courtesy of Hanmi Gallery)

LKL spent most time, though, with CAIS / Skipwiths, with their broad range of contemporary Korean works from both established and emerging artists.

Choi So-young: From Young Ho Village 4 (2007-2010)
Choi So-young: From Young Ho Village 4 (2007-2010). Denim on canvas, 55 x 55cm. (Courtesy of the gallery and artist)

It was good to see a work by Choi So-young – the first time one had been available for sale in the primary market in Europe – and at a price which was almost affordable. The paper works by Chun Kwang-young were beyond the budgets of many, but the more muted works by Chung Doo-hwa were appealing in their quiet way.

Work by Chung Doo-hwa at the Skipwiths stall
Work by Chung Doo-hwa at the Skipwiths stall

The works generating most interest were the photographs by sculptor Park Hyojin who takes objects which are often subject of still lives – a vase of flowers, reproduction of a statue of Michelangelo’s David – and covers them in thick drips of colourful paint, then photographs them, thus dictating to the viewer the precise angle from which the sculpture should be viewed.

Work by Kim Ha-young between two by Park Hyojin; and in foreground, work by Lah Sun. At Skiptwiths
Work by Kim Ha-young between two by Park Hyojin; and in foreground, work by Lah Sun. At Skipwiths

Skipwiths also had a work by Kim Ha-young, who was such a hit for 43 Inverness Street last year, and Lah Sun’s wonderfully-observed figures depicting everyday characters you find in London streets. A well balanced collection, and we look forward to more from this gallery.

Work by Lah Sun, at Skipwiths
Work by Lah Sun, at Skipwiths

The next date for your diary: Art15 (21-13 May). Hanmi Gallery and Shine Artists will be exhibiting, and visiting from Korea will be Gallery SoSo and Gallery H.A.N.

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