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Lee Yongbaek, Broken Mirror

Lee Yongbaek, Broken Mirror (2011), video installation at 54th Venice Biennale, National pavilion, Giardini di Castello [Asian Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 31-Mar 13] Photo © Haupt & Binder

Paradox of Place: Contemporary Korean Art

Asian Art Museum
Seattle WA – Oct 31, 2015-Mar 13, 2016

Jung Yeondoo, Bewitched #2 Seoul

Jung Yeondoo, Bewitched #2 Seoul (2002), digital silver print [Asian Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 31-Mar 13] Courtesy of the artist

Yang Haegue, Gymnastics of the Foldables

Yang Haegue, Gymnastics of the Foldables (2006), black and white photographs[Asian Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 31-Mar 13] Collection of MMCA, Korea

Contemporary Korean art has had an especially strong international presence in the past decade at art fairs and giant museum biennials both abroad and in South Korea. Paradox of Place brings six of the top artists to the Asian Art Museum as part of the museum’s new programming initiative to display living artists alongside rich holdings in ancient and classical Asian art. It is not surprising that video and mixed-media installation art dominate, considering the heritage of pioneer video artist Nam June Paik – legendary New York artist and John Cage protégé.

Lim Minouk and Lee Yongbaek use video to comment on current issues such as North-South reunification and consumerism. Jung Yeondoo and Noh Suntag are more traditional, with digital and film photography capturing average Koreans in fantasy situations and darkly symbolic tableaux. Yang Haegue is a more conceptual photographer, humorously satirizing physical fitness manias, while sculptor Yee Sookyung zones in on displaced public statuary during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As do recent Korean pop stars and dance crazes, the Paradox artists mask deeper concerns with deceptive optimism and cheer.

Matthew Kangas



















Lee Yongbaek, Angel-Soldier

Lee Yongbaek, Angel-Soldier (2011), video still [Asian Art Museum, Seattle WA, Oct 31-Mar 13] Courtesy of the artist


 Sun, Feb 7, 2016