Suh Se­ung-won’s geo­met­ric ab­stract on view in New York

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Kwon Mee-yoo [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Artist Suh Se­ung-won, 77, is con­sid­ered one of the early mem­bers of the Dansaekhwa (Korean mono­chrome) move­ment and the founder of the the­o­ret­i­cal ba­sis for Korean mod­ernism.

He has pur­sued his “Si­mul­tane­ity” se­ries through­out his ca­reer, ex­plor­ing in­ter­ac­tions be­tween geo­met­ric pat­terns and back­grounds.

Ti­tled “Early Works: 1960s to 1980s,” an ex­hibit show­cas­ing how Suh’s rigid geo­met­ric forms evolved in “Si­mul­tane­ity” is cur­rently on view at the Tina Kim Gallery in New York through Oct. 12.

For Suh, “Si­mul­tane­ity en­ables the un­seen to be seen, en­sur­ing that what is hap­pen­ing in the world of nir­vana or be­yond dark could be rep­re­sented through me.”

Ear­lier this year, Suh’s work was show­cased at the Korea So­ci­ety in Man­hat­tan from Jan­uary to April.

That ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tured Suh’s more re­cent pieces that the New York Times de­scribed say­ing, “They’re too square to read as clouds, de­spite the un­mis­tak­able glints of blue peek­ing through, so the mood re­mains oth­er­worldly.”

While Suh’s later pieces are softer with di­aphanous col­ors over­lap­ping, his ear­lier works cur­rently on view are more geo­met­ric and hard­edged.

This ex­hibit presents a wide range of Suh’s early art­work to il­lu­mi­nate his aes­thetic phi­los­o­phy as the artist went through ex­per­i­men­ta­tion of color, shape and com­po­si­tion.

“The ex­hi­bi­tion es­tab­lishes the im­por­tance of Suh’s prac­tice and broad­ens con­tem­po­rary views of Korean art his­tory in the early 1960s out­side of Dansaekhwa and into the move­ments that grew along­side it from the same con­tex­tual stim­uli,” the gallery said in a state­ment.

The ex­hibit sheds light on Suh’s “de­vel­op­ment” pe­riod works from the 1960s and “an­a­lyt­i­cal” pe­riod in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Suh stated that his work was in­spired by his Korean ori­gins.

“My aes­thetic roots are planted in Korean tra­di­tional cul­ture and its spirit, and I have strived to give a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion, which is ex­pressed through the spirit of Si­mul­tane­ity,” Suh once said.

He looked for tra­di­tional el­e­ments in Korean cul­ture such as the ar­chi­tec­ture of hanoks (tra­di­tional Korean houses) and use of hanji (tra­di­tional Korean mul­berry pa­per) in con­struc­tion.

Suh was a lead­ing fig­ure in Korean mod­ern ab­stract art, and founded the Ori­gin Group in 1963 while tak­ing part in the Korean Avant-Garde As­so­ci­a­tion, also known as A.G.

Suh was at the in­ter­sec­tion of western ab­strac­tion and eastern phi­los­o­phy which in­spired Dansaekhwa.

Suh was one of the artists in­vited to the “Korea: Five Artists, Five Hin­sek — White” at the Tokyo Gallery in Ja­pan along with Park Seo-bo and Kwon Young-woo, which later pro­vided the in­spi­ra­tion for Dansaekhwa.

Suh has con­sis­tently pur­sued his “Si­mul­tane­ity” the­ory for over five decades, seek­ing a har­mo­nious bal­ance of form, color and space.

“In this pur­suit of spatial har­mony, the artist pushes the lim­i­ta­tions of the can­vas plane so far as to draw the viewer’s at­ten­tion to the ob­jects’ flat planes, while at the same time rep­re­sent­ing a win­dow into the viewer’s con­scious­ness,” the gallery ex­plained.

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