Korean Eye always brings together a mixture of the familiar and the not so familiar. In 2020, a show which started in St Petersburg and will end in Seoul, we were treated to works from UK-based Korean artists as well as from emerging and established artists based in Korea.
This year, we’ve chosen to do a lazy post mainly featuring our photos of the exhibition, though commenting a little on one or two of the works (and meaning no disrespect to artists whom I do not highlight in this way).
First, a quote from the information board which greeted you on stepping onto the top floor of the Saatchi gallery, before going on a tour around the rooms.
Creativity and Daydream wants to guide viewers to a creativity that is both old-fashioned and contemporary, notable for its clarity and nearly mechanical precision. Young Korean artists nowadays have the common skill of creating plausible myths and of narrating them using novel techniques and mediums achieving perfect visual shape only with a rigorous approach. Contemporary art of South Korea is defined by an aesthetic expression that can be understood by everyone: by addressing complex topics and national traditions, the artists use an intuitively clear visual code. Creativity and Daydream invites onlookers to participate in the development of a new art, and encourages them to unveil new aspects of South Korean Contemporary Art.
Korean Eye 2020 is presented by Hana Bank, and has been curated by Serenella Ciclitira, Founder of the Global Eye Programme, Dr. Dimitri Ozerkov, Head of the Contemporary Art Department at the State Hermitage Museum, Philippa Adams, Head Curator and Director of Saatchi Gallery. The exhibition includes 16 emerging and established contemporary artists whose works were shown at The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, at the first leg of this touring exhibition. Four additional artists have joined the exhibition.
`Creativity and Daydream’ coincides with the publication by SKIRA of the 3rd Korean Eye book, comprising 75 South Korean contemporary artists, edited by Serenella Ciclitira.
Korean Eye is a part of the Global Eye Programme. Founded by David and Serenella Ciclitira in 2009, Korean Eye has held 15 global exhibitions of emerging contemporary artists from Korea. The exhibitions have ranged from London to Seoul, Singapore to Abu Dhabi, New York to St Petersburg. Korean Eye during the London Olympics has attracted a record audience of more than half a million visitors at Saatchi Gallery.
This room featured works by some well established artists whose work will be familiar to many London gallery-goers. UK-based Meekyoung Shin and Young In Hong both had works prominently on show. The works that caught my eye, though, was the series of photographs by Lee Yong-baek entitled The Shadow Scar: images of the angular shadow cast by a stealth bomber over the regular geometric shapes of heavily cultivated arable landscape. The images raised all sorts of interesting questions, not least a highly practical one: how they came to be taken in the first place. The photographs seem to have been taken from the stealth bomber itself – or maybe from one of its fighter jet escorts: was the artist a guest of the US military?
The second room contained intricate ceramic craftwork by Sekyung Lee, in which the detailed designs on the porcelain plates was crafted out of strands of the artist’s hair. But the room was dominated by the installation at one end of the gallery space: Park Da In’s Beauty Cult: a shamanistic altar built for the reverence of beauty products, alongside a video of a shamanistic performance with a similar theme.
The works displayed here were a pleasant surprise, and for me one of the highlights of the exhibition in terms of seeing a new voice being given space. The images were easily relatable, and spoke to a theme of mental health. The works were by a young rapper from the K-pop band WINNER. It’s worth quoting in full from the signage in the room:
Prolific K-pop musician Mino’s creativity has found its way on to canvas. Korean Eye 2020: Creativity and Daydream is proud to present Mino – artist, musician and member of top K-pop band WINNER – as ambassador to the programme.
As South Korea’s popular and cultural exports continue to rise, so, too, has its artistic cachet, and today South Korea is without doubt at the forefront of an exciting era in the arts, with K-Pop music, videos and films going viral on social media.
In my paintings I use the harmony of shapes and colours as a way to capture the fleeting emotions that one cannot express through words.
In this day and age I feel that language itself cannot function in its right form. I wanted to create another type of communication, where the remnants of our feelings that are buried and hidden away, can be conveyed through simple and distorted shapes.
The inability to have real inter-personal relationships and human touch in the world we currently live in has made me realise that I am unable to escape feelings of emptiness and hollowness.
In my work I try to capture the moments where I realise these primitive emotions, which I had previously have tried to deny.
Korean Eye 2020 coincided, in its last week, with START Art Fair 2020. A few images of that fair can be found here.