Yun Hyong-keun (1928-2007) was amongst the leading figures of the Korean Dansaekhwa art movement. Inspired by nature and influenced by the work of the scholar and calligrapher Kim Jeong-hui, Yun’s paintings combine a palette of umber – the colour of earth – and ultramarine – the colour of water – to create rectilinear compositions, reminiscent of traditional ink-wash paintings. Diluted with turpentine Yun spread pigment across the canvas, layering it over days, weeks or months to create fields of intense darkness. His paintings embody time through an accumulation of procedures enacted in different encounters with the work in the same space. Each layer of pigment seeps into the fibres at a different rate, resulting in blurred edges along the unmarked expanses of canvas. In the 1990s, these boundaries gradually became more defined, eventually sharpening into hard edges in the final decade of the artist’s life.
In recent years Yun's work and his contribution to Dansaekhwa have come under renewed study. His works characterise the elements of tactility, spirituality and performance common to first generation Dansaekwha artists, including Chung Sang-Hwa, Ha Chong-Hyun, Chung Chang-Sup, KIM Whanki and Park Seo-Bo. Emerging from a period of international isolation brought about by the Korean War (1950-1953), their work reflected Korean sentiments and aesthetics via an investigation into flatness, materiality and mediation in art making. Rhythmic actions repeatedly performed on the canvas were intended to build a sense of unity between materials, object and the self. While never a movement in the traditional sense – the activities of those associated with the school of Dansaekhwa were ideologically and practically diverse – the artists’ shared a common commitment to the materiality and act of painting. Offering a counterpoint to the Minimalist vocabularies propagated in Western painting of the same time, Yun’s monochromatic abstractions resonate both across his own culture and with key artists in the history of American and European abstraction.
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 exhibition of the artist at a national institution in Korea.
Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective
On the occasion of the 58th edition of the Venice Art Biennale, a major retrospective of Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun (1928 – 2007) will be presented at Palazzo Fortuny by the MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea) and MUVE (Civic Museums of Venice). The exhibition will be the first international retrospective show of the artist since his death in 2007 and follows a critically-acclaimed exhibition of his work at MMCA Seoul. The show will focus on Yun’s extraordinary life and work and will present 55 of Yun’s works that span his entire career. One of the highlights of the exhibition will be a meticulous reproduction of Yun’s atelier which will include outstanding works by other artists (Kim Whanki, Jeon Roe-jin and Choi Jongtae), which Yun had in his studio. While recognising his role in the development of Dansaekhwa, this retrospective aims to examine Yun's work in its own right and from a new perspective.
Curator: Kim Inhye, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
Image: Yung Hyong-keun, Umber-Blue, 1975
Photo credit: © Yun Seong-ryeol / Courtesy The Estate of Yun Hyong-keun
A major retrospective that will exhibit numerous works of art and archival materials by Yun Hyong-keun unseen since the artist’s death in 2007, that offer insight into his profound understanding of Korean traditions.