The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA; Director: Bartomeu Mari) presents a special exhibition titled Layers and Spaces from Friday, 1 September 2017, to Sunday, 29 April 2018, in Galleries 5 and 6 at MMCA, Gwacheon.
Layers and Spaces examines the past and present of Korean contemporary print media, centering on the collection of prints at MMCA. “layers” in the title of the exhibition signifies the printmaker’s plate as a place of expression, while “spaces” symbolizes the crevices or
engravings left on the plate, which come to form the prints. This exhibition intends to expand the concept of layers and spaces by centering on these two axial elements that constitute the framework of print media. Presenting over 150 works by approximately 50 Korean artists, Layers and Spaces sheds light on artists who, even in the midst of changes, cultivated their own unique art world through their relentless exploration of the expressive methodologies and the process of this exploration developing into their artistic attitudes.
Layers and Spaces is largely organized into four themes. “1950s–70s: Creation and Development of Korean Contemporary Prints” focuses on the birth and the growth of contemporary print media in Korea, while “1980s: Engravings and the Korean Minjung Art Prints Movement” looks at a period when a number of universities around the Seoul metropolitan area started to adopt printmaking as an academic program, opening up a systemic route for new print artists to emerge and spurring the development of four major engraving techniques, woodprint, lithograph, copper print, and silk screen printing. In addition, the viewers can encounter the path by which wood prints became a center for the Minjung Misul (People’s Art) movement as it situated itself as an art form that maximizes the spirit of the movement.
The third section, “1990s–Present: Creativity of Prints in the Media Era,” illuminates the experimental nature of print media; it introduces print artists who attempt to overcome limitations of print media and explore to find their unique artistic expression through encounters and employment of other forms of media such as photography, animation, and aluminum or clay casting.
Lastly, “Prints as Medium vs. Attitude” explores how the 60-odd-year-old print movement can be located in the contemporary art world. Visitors will encounter the two currents of traditional and Minjung printmaking that flow through Korea’s print media through works by Bae Nam Kyung, Yun Sei Hee, and Lee Yun Yop, while the works by Kim Dong-Ki, Noh Sangho, and Park Jung Hae, artists who push the boundaries of the medium yet still find their foundations in print media, will show the expanding possibilities of printmaking. Additional features such as a print studio and a digital microscope for print will be provided to help visitors experience print media themselves through a variety of activities.
Bartomeu Mari, director of MMCA, noted, “This major print exhibition is significant in that it sheds light on how Korean artists dealt with distinctive attributes of printmaking through an exploration of the birth and growth of modern Korean print media.” He added, “The show will be an opportunity for viewers to imagine the infinite possibilities of print media.”
In addition to the exhibition, cultural programs including “MMCA Workshop: Exhibition Talk — 60-Minute Relay Printmaking Performance” will be offered to further the understanding
of print media. This program is a performance workshop in which visitors and participating artists including Kim Dong-Ki, Bae Nam Kyung, and printing label Artist Proof will work together to complete a piece of art. Through this collaboration, visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the production processes and techniques of printmaking and to participate in the process of art creation while communicating with the artists. Registration to participate in the workshop can be booked through the MMCA website prior to the program date, while visitors to the museum on the day of the workshop are welcome to freely view the process. Detailed information is available at the MMCA website (www.mmca.go.kr).
※ For more information on the exhibition, please contact Exhibition Department 1 of MMCA at +82-2-2188-6217
※ Please check the link below for images and further information: http://webhard.mmca.go.kr id : mmcapr1 / pw : 0987 (guest > 2017 > MMCA 2017 Exhibition)
■ 1950s – 70s Creation and Development of Korean Contemporary Prints
The birth of Korean contemporary Prints came with the founding of Korea Prints Association in 1958 and the establishment of Korean Contemporary Printmakers Association in 1968. The hard work and efforts of pioneering artists of the association, such as Lee Hangsung, Kim Jeong-ja and Yoo Kangyoul solidified the print media as a genre, establishing the association’s regular exhibition program and winning awards at various international print biennales. The disciplinary base of print media also quickly expanded in this period. The first print biennale in Korea was organized in 1970s, and print media courses began to be offered at universities. Artists in this period dealt with prints as an extension of painting, while exploring their research on establishing the independent identity of print media.
■ 1980s Engravings and Korean Minjung Art Prints Movement
The two key aspects in the Korean contemporary print media in 1980s is that development in prints took place both within and outside of the institutional art system. Beginning with the opening of the Printmaking Department at the Graduate School of Fine Arts in Sungshin Women’s University in 1983, printmaking departments began to be established in both undergraduate and graduate schools in universities across Seoul, systematically producing print artists. Also, distinctive developments and cultivation took place in the four conventional branches of print media – woodcut, lithography, copper plate and silkscreen. At the same time, Minjung woodcut prints played an important role in Minjung Art
movement, which deeply reflected and was profoundly involved with the social changes at the time. The intense expressions of Minjung woodcut prints with thick and coarse lines started to be applied in banners, illustrations and flyers, establishing it as an art form that fully demonstrated the spirit of Minjung Art.
■ 1990s – Present Creativity of Prints in the Media Era
In the 1990s, print media began to reflect the rapidly changing social phenomena brought about by dramatic leaps in the various media and science technologies. Artists began to conduct interdisciplinary experimentations between the boundaries of print media and other genres, such as integrating photography or animation to prints or replacing printing processes with digital prints. This era discovered artists’ attempts to overcome limitations in print media and to find their own original techniques of expression, going beyond the mere printing of ink on paper, to casting aluminum or clay or embossing on stainless steel.
■ Print as Medium vs. Attitude
Where does Korean contemporary print media, in over sixty years of its history, locate itself in the contemporary art world today? The works in Gallery 6 offer clues to the long-standing task of the genre of print media, which has always had to pass down and develop the traditional aspects of the print technique while also experimenting with the versatile aesthetics of contemporary art. The common notion of ‘print media’ as an attitude refers to a flexible characteristic which can be discovered in works that capture the attributes of prints, even if the work does not specifically focus on the medium or consciousness of prints. The various forms of print media, painting, installation and drawing in Layers and Spaces offer the opportunity to observe how print media, one of the oldest genres of art, can expand to become an attitude of artists in the contemporary art world today.