Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present a survey of paintings and works on paper by Yun Hyong-keun. The Korean artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery examines the connection between his painting and drawing practices across the full breadth of a career profoundly connected with the history and culture of his native country. Yun is currently the subject of a retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul, Korea, the first major solo show of the artist at a national institution in Korea.
Amongst the leading proponents of the Dansaekhwa art movement, Yun’s mature practice began in earnest in the 1970s. He had come of age during a prolonged period of injustice for the Korean people that saw them endure military occupation and civil war. Threatened with execution as a student in the 1950s and imprisoned while employed as a teacher in the 1970s, Yun developed an aesthetic that was capable of transcending the traumatic events he had suffered as a younger man. As Korea emerged from a period of international and artistic isolation, Yun became associated with a group of artists who cultivated their own approach to abstraction divorced from global trends and based on an engagement with the medium of painting, materiality and process. While his works of the early 1970s, in particular those on paper, had frequently incorporated diluted streaks of vibrant colour, the middle of that same decade marked a turning point in his artistic direction. A new palette of umber – the colour of earth – and ultramarine – the colour of water – combined in rectilinear compositions reminiscent of traditional ink-wash paintings, became the hallmark of his late practice. Repetition of these compelling abstractions would continue to occupy the artist both on paper and canvas until his death in 2007.