WHANKI KIM (1913-1974)
Whanki Kim started with abstraction in the 1930’s. A fresh graduate of the Fine Arts Department of Nihon University in Tokyo, he was given his first solo show by Amagi Gallery in 1937. To gain any exposure to European modernism it was imperative to study in Japan, where artists who had worked abroad were now teaching back home, as Kim himself was to do in Seoul at the National University in the late 40s and at Hongik University in the 1950s. Foreign travel was strictly limited by the Korean authorities until the 1980s, a constraint that intensified competition among Korean artists to participate in a handful of international expositions, the principal being Sao Paulo, and that made it all the more difficult to secure international recognition and sponsorship.
Kim moved to New York in 1963 direct from the 7th Sao Paulo Biennale, where he represented Korea and won Honorable Mention for painting. Helped by a Rockefeller Foundation grant for one year, he was able to take stock of the city’s lively art community. Kim was put off by the commercialism and vapidity he saw in much of American abstract and Pop art, striving to invest his non-narrative work with emotive power of poetry and music. In Korea, Kim was creating a sensation with the work he shipped back, particularly an artist in his late 50s still breaking new ground. In New York, he was making a name for himself, gradually securing gallery representation and critical support. Kim’s fifteenth solo exhibition took place at Asia House Galleries in 1964 and his twenty-first, “100,000 Dots,” at Poindexter Gallery in 1973.
While living in Paris from 1956 to 1959 he had three exhibitions in Europe: at M. Benezit Gallery in Paris, Muratore Gallery in Nice, and Cheval de Verre Gallery in Brussels. When he returned to Seoul in 1959 he had one person exhibitions at the Korea Information Center Gallery and at the Bando Gallery.
Kim’s work has been showing continuously in the Americas, Europe and East Asia for seven decades, including two special exhibitions at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1965 and 1977 and retrospectives on the tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth and thirteenth anniversaries of his death in 1974.
SU KWAK (B. 1949)
Su Kwak was born in Busan and received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 1979. She is now based in Washington, DC. She had one-person exhibitions at the Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago, in 1986; at the June Kelly Gallery, New York, in 2004, 2009, 2016; and at the Sun Gallery, Seoul, in 2009. Her exhibition at the Brauer Museum of Art, Indiana, in 2012 traveled to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Oregon, in 2013. Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, the Seoul Museum of Art, the Busan Museum of Art, the Brauer Museum of Art and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, among others. Kwak imbues her painting with a message of healing and hope. The painting surface is complex. Shapes are cut out and reapplied. Kwak often cuts and stitches the surface of her canvases.
TSCHANGYEUL KIM (B. 1929)
Tschangyeul Kim is a well-known artist in Korea, the United States and France. Born in Seoul, Kim studied at the Colleage of Fine Arts, Seoul National University from 1948 to 1950. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 he moved to Paris exhibiting at the 2nd Paris Biennale in 1961 and at the 8th Sao Paulo Biennale in 1965. From 1972 to 1976 he participated in the Salon de Mai, Paris. In 1976 and 1979 he had one-person exhibitions at Hyundai Gallery, Seoul. He also exhibited at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool in 1992 and he had retrospective at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul in 1993. In 1994 he had another retrospective at the Sunje Museum, Kyung ju, Korea. He had one-person exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, Paris in 2004. His paintings were exhibited in Beijing in 2005. Kim lives and works in Seoul and Paris.
KIM TCHAH-SUP (B. 1940)
Kim took his subject—fields of harsh stones—from photos he took before he left Korea for the United States in 1974. He used them first for his silkscreen print “Situation” in 1970, before adapting it to paintings. His recent work explores the symbolic relationship between the natural world and (pi), a transcendental number used to express ratios in mathematics, physics and chemistry.
The artist was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. His family moved to Gyeongju, Korea, in 1944. He graduated from Seoul National University in 1963 and received his MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, in 1977, the Space Gallery, Seoul, in 1979 and 1984, the Iteza Gallery, Kyoto, in 1986 and the Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, in 1993, Marronnier Art Center, Korean Culture and Arts Foundation, Seoul, in 2002, and in the “Lee Joongsub Award Show” at the Choson Il-bo Museum, Seoul, in 2003. His work was exhibited in “Acquisitions ’73-’76,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in “30 Years of American Printmaking,” at The Brooklyn Museum in 1974, and “Six Artists from Korea,” at Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, in 1995. Kim’s work is in the collection of the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwachon, Korea, the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Cincinnati Art Museum, among others.
CHO TAIKHO (B. 1957)
Born in Chungnam province, Korea, Cho graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1988. He has had one-person exhibitions at Galerie Pierre Lescot, Paris, in 1987, 1989 and 1992; Gallery Sigma, New York, in 1990; Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, in 1991; Gallery Bhak, Seoul, in 1993 and 1995; Galerie Gana-Beaubourg, Paris, in 2001; Gallery Insa Art Center, Seoul, in 2003; and Gana Art Gallery, Seoul, in 2012.
BOHNCHANG KOO (B. 1953)
Bohnchang Koo currently lives and works in Seoul. Thematically dealing with the passage of time in his work, he captures still and fragile moments to reveal the unseen breath of life. Since 2004, Koo has photographed Korean Joseon white porcelains in his vessel series which highlight the beauty of Korea’s cultural heritage.
Bohnchang Koo attended Yonsei University majoring in Business Administration in Korea and later studied photography in Germany. Presently he is professor at Kyungil University. His works have been exhibited in over 40 solo exhibitions and are in numerous public collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; the Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art; Musee Guimet, Paris; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea. He was an artistic director for 2008 Daegu Photo Biennale and one of the collaborating curators for Photoquai 2013, Paris and also a nominator for Discovery Award of 2014 Arles photo festival. He is the author of “Deep Breath in Silence”, “Revealed Personas”, “Vessels for the Heart”, “Hysteric Nine”, “Vessel”, and “Everyday Treasures”.
GEEJO LEE (B. 1959)
Geejo Lee was born in Korea on the island of Jeju. He earned a BFA and MFA at Seoul National University. Inspired by the traditional beauty of Joseon period white porcelains, he brings a fresh and modern interpretation to his work. He participated in numerous group exhibitions including the “Constancy & Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2014”, at the Triennale di Milano, in 2014. Lee’s works are in the collections of the Jin Ro Culture Foundation, Seoul; Gwangju Joseon Royal Kiln Museum, Gwang-ju city; and Yeoju Ceramic Art Museum Gyeonggi-do. He currently teaches at Chungang University.
LEE UNGNO (1904-1989)
Lee Ungo went to Japan in 1935 and studied Western-style painting at the Kawabata Art School and at the Hongo Painting Academy in Tokyo. By 1958 he had numerous one-person and group exhibitions in Korea, Japan, the United States, and Europe. In 1989 and 1994 his work was exhibited at the Ho-Am Art Museum (Leeum Samsung Museum of Art), Seoul.
HAI JA BANG (B.1937)
Bang Hai Ja lives and works both in Paris and in Seoul. She has lived in France since 1961 and she is a part of the first generation of Korean abstract painters. She finds her roots outside her country and uses them in her work. East and West are linked in the use of materials she works with : Korean traditional paper, ochre soil of Provence, natural pigments. Bang Hai Ja tries to capture the luminous energy of the cosmos ” the energy that comes from the act of painting is a true force that gives the strength to the soul of the one who is looking at a painting.”
Bang Hai Ja received the award of sacred art at the Monte-Carlo International Grand Prix Exhibition, Monaco. She was awarded with the medal for arts in the city Montrouge, Grand Prix of foreign artists of Korea, and received the Order of Arts and Letters by the Korean President in October 2010. In 2012, she received the France-Korea Cultural Award and the Excellency Award for culture and arts by the International Foundation of Korean women (KoWinner) in Romania. In 2015-2016 her works were exhibited in the Cernuschi Museum during the exhibition Seoul Paris Seoul, in connection with the year of Korea in France.
“I would like that through these pigments, the matter becomes light, that it transfers energy to the viewer, gives him an internal smile”. Even though she is always fascinated by the new tendencies of the Western contemporary art, Bang Hai Ja has never stopped looking for her light, with a traditional and virtuoso savoir-faire or with the use of the famous Korean paper and the great mastery of calligraphy. On the one hand, with her art Bang Hai Ja is approaching deep spirituality of Buddhists monasteries, and on the other hand – the art of fresco, of stained glass or also of the icons or poetry.
ELIZABETH KEITH (1887-1956)
Elizabeth Keith was a Scottish printmaker and watercolorist. Her work consists of prints depicting Asian life and culture, a fascination she acquired when she traveled to Tokyo at the age of 28. She would continue her travels throughout Asia, visiting China, Korea, and the Philippines, gathering more subjects for her artwork. Born in Scotland, Ireland in 1887, Keith was a self-taught artist. She learned the methods of traditional Japanese woodblock printing, emulating the work of Katsushika Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige, and Kitagawa Utamaro. Keith’s work gained popularity not only in Japan, but also in London and New York. Landscapes, people in traditional and common dress, and cultural rituals were central to her imagery. She died in 1956 in the United States.
TRICIA WRIGHT (B. 1962)
Tricia Wright was born in England and attended art schools in London, where she lived with her family before relocating to New York in 1999. She divides her time between her studio practice in Kingston, New York and NYC, where she works at Judd Foundation. Tricia is also a freelance editor/writer; her most recent solo production American Art & Artists was published by Harper Collins in association with the Smithsonian Institute. She has worked at several art historical sites including the Glass House (CT) where she designed the Art Focus Tour, and as Interpretive Specialist at Olana and Lyndhurst (NY). She is also a private art guide, creating specialized tours of NYC museums and galleries. Her works are in museum, corporate, and private collections in New York and the UK.
PARK SOOKEUN (B. 1914-1965)
At the age of twelve, Park Sookeun encountered a reproduction of Millet’s Angelus that made a profound impression on his artistic imagination. At eighteen, he won a prize in the Western Painting section of the 11th government-sponsored Joseon Art Exhibition for a watercolor of farmers in spring. An oil version of this work gained him entry to the 18th Joseon Art Exhibition in 1939, when he was twenty-four. Self-tutored in art and with only an elementary-school education, Park committed himself to painting in the face of sever financial hardship. He took a job painting portraits of GIs at the PX of the US Eighth Army, in 1952, because it paid better than his position as a middle-school art teacher. With his earnings he bought a tiny hut as a studio and continued to participate in sponsored exhibitions. By the mid-fifties his work was attracting a wider circle, including a UNESCO exhibition in San Francisco and group shows in New York and Tokyo. His career was cut short by his premature death from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of fifty-one in 1965.
Park Sookeun paintings are unique. His body of work is thought to be small, perhaps no more than four hundred paintings. Modest in scale, somber and roughly textured, they are at first glance unassuming and unpretentious. These very qualities, combined with the abstract, simplified rendering of his idyllic–now iconic–scenes of everyday life, give his work their power and poetry.
Park’s work was widely appreciated by Americans stationed in Seoul during the 1960s. Now it is prized by Korean private collectors and institutions and has toured the world in exhibitions of Korean modernism. Founded by an American, the Bando Gallery at the Choson Hotel near the American embassy began exhibiting his paintings in 1955, selling them for nominal sums to clients who were predominantly Americans.