Articles and Features

Artland Spotlight On: Korean Artists

“I am always searching for poetic and playful moments among spaces, things, memories, and womanhood.”

Ina Jang⁠

For the avid art collector and the art lover alike, ‘Artland Spotlight On’ is a series highlighting a selection of artists who have grabbed our attention, from emerging players in the art scene, through well-established names, to icons of contemporary art.
This week’s edition is dedicated to Korean artists.

Boasting the highest number of collectors per capita in Asia, the Korean art market has experienced unprecedented and dramatic growth in recent years, with Seoul becoming a nexus of the international art market.
Especially since 2016, following the popularity of Dansaekhwa – the Modernist face of contemporary Korean abstract art – increased opportunity for galleries to create cross-cultural exchange brought to a greater engagement with both recognized and emerging Korean artists in the international scene. We present a selection, by no means exhaustive, of Korean artists whose distinctive creativity is expressed through extremely diverse practices.
All works are available on Artland’s marketplace.

Hayoung Eum

After starting his career as a fashion illustrator at Vogue Korea in 2006, Hayoung Eum has slowly shifted towards painting, integrating a variety of media in his artistic process; from coloured pencils to acrylics, especially experimenting through the use of Benjamin Moore’s Ultra Spec paint, which allows the artist to create thick, highly textured paint layers acting almost as three-dimensional elements.

Particularly interested in how the overflowing imagery and information provided by the media affect our perception of reality – inevitably shaping modern society – Eum creates idiosyncratic interpretations of media, filtered by his subconscious and personal experience. He stated: “Watching a three to four-year-old child’s free wheeling sense of drawing which is enviable enough become standardized over time under the influence of various media, I have been curious of the effects of media and the society that imposes certain standards and rules.”

Ina Jang

Ina Jang was born in South Korea in 1982 and currently lives and works in New York, where she relocated to pursue her BFA in photography and MPS in Fashion Photography from the School of Visual Arts.
Her unique aesthetic, characterized by minimal, dreamy atmospheres, is profoundly influenced by fashion and design and plays with the exploration of dimensionality.
In her photographs, humorous and powerful in their simplicity, models are often partly obscured by items such as purses and shoes or pieces of paper building compositions in the intersection between drawing and photography. “I make images that are minimal and two-dimensional by layering people, places and things to precisely execute ideas, but with the intention of discarding information,” she says. “As I want the ideas to be tangible, the process becomes rigorously physical and related to my personal experience in terms of making photographs; it often contains cutting, gluing and pasting mundane objects from real life, such as paper and cotton balls. The photographs are often figurative and unidentified, casting a suspicion upon the photograph’s agenda.”

In recent years, she produced a series of conceptual still-life works: colourful, abstract compositions, created by arranging hand-painted paper cut-outs then photographed in the ethereal winter sunlight that streamed through the windows of her New York studio. As a result, simultaneously flat and three-dimensional forms, at times abstract at times resembling plants or human figures, stand against muted backgrounds.
The series, gathered in the book Radiator Theatre, proved to be an escape from the stress caused by Utopia, an emotionally challenging parallel project focused on the way women are depicted in Japanese soft-core pornography.
Jang’s work has been exhibited internationally and featured in publications including the New York Times Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, Time Magazine, and The New Yorker.

Byung Joo Kim

Born in Seoul in 1979, sculpture artist Byung Joo Kim made his name with the production of his Ambiguous Wall relief sculptures: tangles of lines and dots outlining building structures that challenge spatial perception. Mostly realized in finely laser-cut steel, these endless intersections of horizontal and vertical lines and planes are meticulously designed, each layer characterized by a distinctive colour. Hypothetical perspective drawings turned into three-dimensional form, their intersections and shadows build labyrinthine silhouettes expressing the sculptural quality of architecture and reveal inside spaces otherwise invisible to the eye, ultimately generating “ambiguous” spaces. 

Byung Joo Kim stated: “What is in a closed space, behind the lockers, closed doors and walls? We become curious once in a while. That is how my work of revealing space began and my interest in the border of spaces developed.”

Hyungshin Hwang

Born in Seoul in 1981, Hyungshin Hwang is a Korean designer holding an MFA in Woodworking and furniture design from Hongik University.
Currently based in Seoul, he is deeply inspired by the geometric nature of his city’s architectural landscape, resulting in the creation of bold, volumetric compositions casting hard shadows, which characterize his sculptural objects and furniture. “I grew up in an apartment complex and was always familiar with the scenes of redevelopment,” he stated. “My unit- driven monotone designs are attached to these memories.”
Echoes of modern urban environments and interest in raw materials run through his projects, especially his ‘layered series’, premiered at KIAF in 2007, and since exhibited internationally.
Almost buildings silhouettes, his combined objects in monotone colours are built in a variety of materials, from steel to stone, from wood to layered boards of black polypropylene.

Relevant sources to learn more

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