Gana Art is staging a solo exhibition of Hwang Jai-Hyoung (1952-present), who is evaluated to have created a formative language based on legitimate realism and formulated the framework for the first generation of minjung art (a populist art movement born in 1980), for the first time in seven years since his last solo exhibition in 2010. Hwang was born in Boseong, Jeollanam-do, in 1952, graduated from the Department of Painting at Chung-Ang University in 1981, and co-founded Imsullyeon with Lee Jong-Gu and Song Chang in 1982. Imsullyeon is a minjung art organization founded in an attempt to break free from the trend of monochromatic paintings which appeared in the mid 1970s and based on the spirit of realism to resist society’s biases. Hwang then moved to a coal mining town in Taebaek, witnessed the true picture of the life of the working class firsthand as a miner, and continued to embody different scenes of the miners’ lives in depth.
This solo exhibition was entitled One Hundred Thousand Hairs to mirror the artist’s focus on both the spirituality and materiality of human hair. The hair used in the exhibits was collected by the artist himself from his acquaintances and local hair shops in Taebaek, and serves to instill “life” into each piece. Hwang believes each strand of hair, retaining its own life and energy, stores the stories of its owner. He has remained dedicated to the portrayal of the lives of miners who toiled in dark mine galleries and their families over the past several decades in Taebaek and feels heavily indebted to them for falling short of conveying their turbulent lives in their entirety. This series of works using hair that contains their souls has provided comfort to the artist throughout the entire creation process and has come to exude a vitality that is clearly distinguished from works created with brushes and paints.
The artist also showcases paintings that fully capitalize on the unique trait of graphite – a material that emits more radiance as it is rubbed – and portray the grandiose and mystical beauty of nature. Hwang found himself at Lake Baikal during his trip to seek the origin of the Korean race and gained inspiration about the roots of the Korean people while overlooking the lake with more than 25 million years of history. Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest, coldest, largest, and deepest freshwater lake, nicknamed the Pearl of Siberia. The artist reproduced the radiance of this magnificent lake using graphite in an effort to render the “mammoth silence” that incubates stories about the roots of the Korean race.
Hwang Jai-Hyoung made his debut in 1980 through the JoongAng Fine Arts Prize with a work entitled Hwangji 330 and has been noted for works that provide penetrating insight into the reality of Korean society over the past four decades. Hwang is the winner of the 1st Park Soo-Keun Art Award in 2016. His exhibition is expected to offer spectators the chance to experience the aesthetics of true realism through the artist’s insightful and compassionate perspective on the people of contemporary society.