Hakgojae Gallery aspires to present the progress of Minjung Art from its emergence in 1960s to the scenes of the candlelit vigil in 2017, at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018. Supporting Minjung art, uniquely developed in Korea and recently receiving international attention, is the significance of our exhibition. Hakgojae’s booth will allow its audience to view the works of artists that influenced Minjung artists, as well as works of the 1st and 2nd generation of Minjung artists as a whole, and experience the transformation of Minjung art.
Hakgojae Gallery will present the works of the following artists; Nam June PAIK (1932, Korea – 2006, Miami), Suknam Yun (1939, Korea), Hak-chul Shin (1944, Korea), Se-Yeol Oh (1945, Korea), Jang Sup Son (1941, Korea), Yobae Kang (1952, Korea), and Suntag Noh (1971, Korea). Nam June Paik is the founder of Video art, and is a master representative of the 21st century contemporary art. He fused Korean traditional folklore and ‘gut’ (Korean Shamanic rituals) into his works, and this influenced many Minjung artists. Yun Suknam is a representative Korean feminist artist, and founded ‘Siwol-moim,’ a Minjung art organization. Tate Modern included her work, "Being Restricted I" (1995) as a part of their collection in 2016, and her work is on view in a group exhibition at the Smithsonian, establishing Yun as an international artist. Shin Hak-chul, a representative Minjung artist, focuses on the ordinary people, oppressed by the government authority and the weight of history, and bases his works on the social aspect and reality of Korea. Oh Se-Yeol works in a labor-intensive technique; painting numerous layers over the canvas and scraping off the surface with a sharp object repeatedly, to understand the lives of laborers and console the exhausted contemporary humanity. By steadily making appearances in major auctions such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Oh’s works suggest Minjung art’s market possibility. Yobae Kang and Jang Sup Son are the founding members of ‘Reality and Utterance,’ a major Minjung art organization, and are both actively working as artists. The two artists portray nature such as trees, mountains, and the ocean as witnesses of history with powerful brushstrokes. Suntag Noh is a representative Korean documentary photographer, and has received many awards including the German Photo Book Award (Silver Prize, 2009) and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Artist of the Year (2014). He is a 2nd generation Minjung artist, and creates works that criticize the political violence under the Korean national division and specific circumstances.
Hakgojae’s booth will be composed of the works as follows. Nam June Paik’s "Internet Dweller" (1994) is a representative work of the artist, first presented in his traveling exhibition, "The Electronic Super Highway" (1994-1997). This work is a representation of the artist’s imaginary figure that lives in the internet world, and represents Paik’s oeuvre. "I Wrote it in Tokyo in 1954" (1994) is a media installation including a TV screen and music that Paik wrote in 1954. Paik originally majored in music, and this work is one of the few that allows the audience to experience his ‘total art world.’ Suknam Yun’s "Nostalgia II (in the Mt. Kumkang)" (1999) will be exhibited next to its drawing, "Drawing for Mt. Kumkang Ok-Ryu-Bong and Guryong Falls" (1990s). Hak-chul Shin’s "The June Democratic Uprising and the Laborer’s Demonstration of July and August" (1991) is the largest and major work of the artist from the 1990s. Shin embodies significant moments from Korean contemporary history into a flaring firestorm, to create an intense image. Three of Se-Yeol Oh’s figure paintings will be exhibited. The figures in Oh’s works are all deformed, representing the physically and mentally wounded people who lived through the Korean War and rapid industrialization. The objet the artist places on top of the canvas affectionately embraces these figures. The background made up of multiple layers of thick oil paint and the texture created by scraping the surface with a knife is engaging. Jang Sup Son’s "Sacred Tree" series and his debut work, "The April Revolution" (1960) will be exhibited. When Son was in high school, he was coincidentally caught up with the April 19 Revolution demonstrators. The sketches from that occurrence became the basis of "The April Revolution" (1960). With the fact that Minjung art emerged in the 1970s in mind, this work is historically significant as the genesis of Minjung art. Yobae Kang portrays Jeju Island’s nature as the witness of the island’s history, in "Billows" (2015) and "Dawn" (2013). Nature is portrayed as the joys and sorrows of the people of Jeju Island, who endured historical events such as 4.3 Jeju Massacre, with Kang’s unique tenacious brushstrokes. Suntag Noh’s "Drought" series (2015-2017, subtitle: State of Emergency) is a series of photography that captures the scenes of protest from the past three years, under Korea’s past government regime. The past government in Korea has quelled protesters with water cannons, and caused many casualties. The image of the people’s thirst for Democracy, even while being attacked with water cannons, is embodied in the ironic title and the realistic documentary photographs.