Puerta Roja returns to Korea International Art Fair (KIAF) for the fifth time on 4 to 7 October 2018, furthering the gallery’s continued commitment to the fair and the Korean art market. Curated by Adriana Alvarez-Nichol, Puerta Roja's Founder and the Co-President of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association, the booth reflects the gallery’s eight-year vision to introduce top Spanish and Latin American art to the Asia Pacific. This year the selection for the fair focuses on five artists who explore the concept of movement through various forms of abstract art.
The project presents works by 20th century Op and Kinetic Art master Carlos Cruz-Diez and introduces for the first time in Korea the work of Chilean artist Fernando Prats, leading up to the artist’s first solo show in Hong Kong opening at Puerta Roja’s space in SoHo 189 Art Lane, on 13 November 2018. Accompanying them, the booth will also feature bamboo mobile sculptures by Laurent Martin ‘Lo’, which have captured the imagination of Asian audiences over the last two years, alongside the rhythmic works on canvas and paper by younger artists María García Ibáñez and Javier León Pérez. The gallery has sold works by all four artists, now returning to the fair, to prominent collections in Korea.
Following the success of the gallery’s recent exhibition Movement (2018), a joint exhibition with the Parisian Galerie Denise René, Puerta Roja continues to explore the concept of movement through different approaches to abstract art. Movement presented a historical narrative of the socio-political context and personal relationships that generated the Op and Kinetic Art movement in the 20th century alongside its lasting legacy through works by following generations. Puerta Roja’s 2018 KIAF booth will further this dialogue by juxtaposing the Op and Kinetic genera with a variety of different artistic approaches, techniques and materials used when investigating the concept of movement.
From Carlos Cruz-Diez, the booth presents new works from the Physichromie series developed in 1959. The three-dimensional works feature a flat surface of vertical bands rendered in a contrasting palette and arranged with mathematical regularity into multiple geometric planes. Each structure creates a “light trap” where colours transform when seen from different angles. As the viewer moves, colour dissolves and oscillates from one chromatic range to another, generating virtual colours not present in the support.
The artist’s work has been well-received across the Asia Pacific since 1988 when Physichromie Double Face was installed in the Olympic Park in South Korea. The artist, now aged 95 and who continues actively working, has been widely honoured around the world. Puerta Roja has been representing the work of Cruz-Diez in Asia since 2016. In 2017 to great acclaim, the gallery presented Carlos Cruz-Diez: Mastering Colour, his first gallery solo exhibition in the region. Puerta Roja also prides itself in having placed the artist’s works in important Hong Kong, Indonesian and Korean collections during various Asia Pacific art fairs, including the private collection of Higgin Kim at KIAF 2017.
In contrast to the works of Cruz-Diez, the booth presents monochrome Bird Paintings by Fernando Prats, never-before exhibited in Korea. The works record a bird’s flight on smoked canvas. Uncontrolled wingbeats mark the surface, depicting the bird’s movement through a process in between abstraction and sequence photography. Prats is internationally renowned for devising unique pictorial systems, far removed from the instruments of a painter, in order to generate images that record fleeting natural actions, exposing not only the beauty of nature but also the violent and destructive reality of our fluctuating environment. Prats represented Chile at the 54th Venice Biennale and was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Scholarship in 2006, among other achievements. Puerta Roja began representing Prats earlier this year and will open his first solo-exhibition titled Nature Paintings in Hong Kong on 13 November, 2018.
After the incredible success of Laurent Martin ‘Lo’s bamboo mobiles in KIAF last year, with prominent private Korean collections, including the Koo House Museum, acquiring seven works during the fair, the artist returns with new works, including the outstanding large-scale piece What a Small World. His sculptures rely on perfect gravitational balance to rotate gracefully, drawing curves of harmony like the gracious strokes of Chinese calligraphy to immerse the viewer in the physical and sensorial virtues of the organic material. The artist’s practice has developed around Eastern philosophical and spiritual beliefs he has encountered during his travels across Asia, which inspired his first solo-exhibition in Asia, Zhu Qi [竹氣], held by Puerta Roja in 2018. Concurrently the gallery highlighted his works in Art Central, presenting Floating Tea House (2017), a large dome-like bamboo installation originally produced for the Wu Yuan Arts and Culture Centre in Taiwan. The artist will be present at KIAF 2018 and available for interviews.
Two younger artists explore the movement of the hand in relation to patterns in nature: Javier León Pérez’s discourse creates oscillating abstract landscapes through the process of detailed repetition, invoking the philosophical idea of Li (理), referring to the underlying geometry in the natural world. María García Ibáñez also explores organic geometry through drawing, which lies at the core of her very experimental practice. Most recently, her painstakingly detailed drawings are then laser cut to generate movement through the play of shadows. In a span of a few years, both artists’ work has become part of collections in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Korea.
Adriana Alvarez Nichol, Founder of Puerta Roja and Co-President of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association says: “We are honored to be invited back to KIAF to participate in the fair for the fifth time this year, given the quality of the Korean contemporary art scene. We find collectors to be very knowledgeable and demand the highest standards, particularly when it comes to conceptual integrity and technical execution. We believe our carefully curated selection of works advocate for the diversity and universalism in Spanish and Latin American art while relating to the sophistication of the Korean audience.”