South Korean Contemporary Art: Pontone Gallery | USA

15 January - 27 February 2021

Pontone Gallery is delighted to present this group exhibition of six acclaimed South Korean artists at the gallery’s downtown Augusta, GA location. With artworks ranging from ostensibly traditional oil and ink paintings to light box sculptures, solar LCD units and digital work on television screens, this is an exhibition that celebrates and explores the conjunction of time-honored Eastern artistic ideals with contemporary methods of execution and representation.


Choi Soowhan creates meticulous, immaculate, yet expressive images by drilling holes of various sizes (0.4-3mm) in a black acrylic plate (Plexiglass) or laminate, and then LED backlighting the piece. The result is art based on precision, where Choi masterfully manipulates material and light to create texture, form and substance.


Lee Jungwoong uses Korean rice paper and Western oil paint to brings poetic and almost literal life into his subjects. His Chinese brushes and ebony ink splotches, swipes and bleeds showcase dynamism and motion that far surpass a simple two-dimensional image. They are accompanied by gleaming wood and brush hairs visible in the coarseness of every individual strand. The amount of detailing renders his works flawless, sometimes causing viewers to lean in, trying to find the brushstrokes that created the glossy smoothness of the handles, the soaked transience of the paper and the compliance of every brush hair.


Mari Kim is a Korean artist who uses the language of Manga, Disney and Pop-Art to make her glossily realised paintings. Her images derive from a rich mixture of Western and Eastern cultural references. She produces pieces which explicitly reflect a pop sensibility and aesthetic back at her audience. 


Hong Sungchul creates masterful work that takes the form of sculptural constructions, mostly wall based reliefs. Made from gridded arrangements of identical solar lcd units that produce patterns of random, flickering pixellation, he asserts this sense of impermanence and constant flux. Through these subtle and artful constructions we are introduced to questions about how we live in the virtual, and sometimes disconnected, world. His pieces aim to reclaim a sense of intimacy, engagement and understanding. Fast moving and blurry perceptions are slowed down and examined; the rich quality and beauty of the simple and everyday are revealed.


Lee Leenam digitally reinterprets classical masterpieces that reveal nature's wonders and life's aura. He attempts to breathe new meaning and vitality into each pixel of image through cartoon characters, seasonal transformations, icons and symbols of art, society and war. Upon these he builds scenes of growth, change and conflict. He creates clusters of cumulative events, transformations, overlays and juxtapositions, gradual accretions of information. Over time these events build, multiply and intensify only to dissipate, fade and fall away returning the image to a state of calm.


Hwang Seontae constructs work that takes the form of the 'light box', built from layers of printed and etched glass, depicting cooly delineated, contemporary interiors. The box has a self-contained light source which articulates the imagined scene. Sunlight enters through windows, casting pools and patterns of illumination and projecting shadowed forms across the silent spaces. In this mostly monochromatic world, there are hints of subtle colour in the exterior glimpses of landscape and foliage. The sun's rays energise and bring life to the scene. Rooms are deserted but not abandoned; they are furnished and maintained. There is a sense of recent departure and/or imminent return.


JIHI creates mixed media images on panel which, at first glance, seem to be simple, graffiti-like characters. These humble forms combine to create an allegory full of highly implicit symbols. Utilising this light and bright formative language, she explores the heavy theme of lonely human alienation and crooked social reality.