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‘Real’ Rightness, A Drama of Resistance and Solidarity : Newcomers 77, The Young Powers of Korean Art Selected by Nine Art Experts

posted 10 May 2021

Artists of ‘young power’ who will drive the art world of tomorrow have been selected. They are the so-called, ‘Newcomers 77’. Nine art experts participated in this Special Feature as nominators. They are all ‘young players’ in their 30s and 40s, all active in the Korean art scene today. Art In Culture proposed three requirements for nominations: (1) ages younger than 39, (2) held more than one solo exhibition, and (3) exclude participating artists of ‘Contemporary Artists’ of Art In Culture March 2018 edition. Here, a total of 77 next-generation artists have gathered. The composition of the newcomers are as follows. 47 women (teams), 29 men, and one mixed-gender team, showing an overwhelming share of women artists. The ‘women’s power’ that hit the art world of Korea is strong. In terms of age, 50 artists were born in the 1980s and 25 in the 1990s. It is a collective of the digital natives, Generation Y. Distinction in region is also notable. Artists based in the metropolitan area of Korea focus on exploring contemporary media, while regional artists voice out social statements or personal desires.
We categorized the work of Newcomers 77 around five keywords. It is a work of art criticism against the keywords of contemporary art, an on-ground exhibition that sums up the landscape of ‘the young and the new’.

Kwon Soonwoo (CEO of Tastehouse), Kwon Hyukgue (independent curator), Nam Woong (art critic), Lee Dongmin (curator of Daegu Art Museum), Lee Sun (curator of Gwangju Lee Kang Ha Art Museum), Chung Hyun (professor at University of Seoul), Choi Sooyeon (CEO of P21), Hong Leeji (curator of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea), Hwang Seomi (curator of Busan Museum of Art)

‘‘Real’ Rightness, A Drama of Resistance and Solidarity’

In visual arts, ‘real’ is always a hot topic. How do contemporary artists look at realism which reflects the reality of society? First, there is a group of artists who record the symptoms of the rapidly changing city and point out the issues. They shoot videos of old apartment buildings planned to be reconstructed or draw homes that have been devastated due to redevelopment. They also visualize issues like regionalism or generational conflicts, which are deep-seated problems in Korea, through paintings or installations. They extend a hand of reconciliation to the intergroup conflicts that have been festering for a long time being entangled with Korea’s polarized politics. Some works promise to never forget the tragic disasters, while others raise voice on human violence through farcical parody no one dares to laugh at. There has been a notable increase in the voices advocating for animal rights. Works that point out the uncertainty of trust spreading online, vulnerability of digital security, and the two sides of cutting-edge technology are also a new trend in the digital era.

최이다 〈스위스 범죄〉 싱글채널 비디오 15분 2018. 사진제공 아트인컬처

Choi Iida 〈Swiss Crime〉 single-channel video 15 minutes 2018. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Choi Lida
Choi Iida is a screenwriter as well as a director who directed and . She sets an invisible ‘other side of the world’ as the backdrop to her work to find answers to vague and heavy questions. compares booting a computer to savoir-faire and sociability. Choi Iida’s moving image contains a mixture of absurd fiction and strange overturn.

장종완 〈가을 직전〉 장지에 아크릴릭 과슈 145.5×112cm 2021. 사진제공 아트인컬처

Jang Jongwan 〈Right before Autumn〉 acrylic gouache on paper 145.5×112cm 2021. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Jang Jongwan
Jang Jongwan portrays the contradictions and instabilities of modern society through a combination of surrealistic landscapes and whimsical situations in a funny but sad way. “The utopistic landscape portrayed on kitsch image feels like staring at a friendly waitress at a family restaurant with an overly bright smile.”

김지영 〈파랑 연작〉(벽), 〈이 짙은 어둠을 보라〉(바닥) 종이에 오일 파스텔, 각 50x50xm x32 2016-2018. 사진제공 아트인컬처

Keem Jiyoung 〈Wind Beyond the Closed Windows (닫힌 창 너머의 바람)〉(wall), 〈Look at This Unbearable Darkness (이 짙은 어둠을 보라)〉(floor) mixed materials dimensions variable , 각 50x50xm x32 2016-2018. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Keem Jiyoung
Keem Jiyoung writes books compiling facts and information in news articles with her writing. The artist’s one-color landscape series with no human figure remember the scenes of tragic incidents. “Keem’s work shows that art should not carelessly objectify the pain and suffering of tragedies, yet that there is something to be faced, and not shy away from, for better days.” (Kwon Hyukgue)

이승희 〈깃발〉 알루미늄, 천에 프린트, 게양대, 밑판, 깃발 가변크기 2020. 사진제공 아트인컬처

Lee Seunghee 〈Colorful Daegu (깃발)〉 aluminum, print on fabric, flagpole, base plate, flag dimensions variable 2020. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Lee Seunghee
Lee Seunghee approaches the issue of conflicts in Korean society. The artist creates delicate, warm grave-shaped installations for the bodies of the victims of the Daegu subway fire, who have no surviving family, or makes Korea’s regionalism slogan ‘we are a family (우리가 남이가)’ into a wall installation, visualizing regional conflict. is a piece that shows the changes of political parties in Daegu from 1981 to today in colors.

조정환 〈Call it a Day 1〉 캔버스에 유채 112.1×145.5cm 2014 사진제공 아트인컬처

Cho Junghwan 〈Call it a Day 1〉 oil on canvas 112.1×145.5cm 2014. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Cho Junghwan
Cho Junghwan portrays the symptoms of a rapidly changing city from a witness’ point of view. There is a strange deja vu to the artist’s landscape, and it is the outcome of reflecting his subjective thoughts, emotions, and sensibility of the city. “The crumbling stone graves and headstones are omen for disaster. The fiery sky is the soaring desire of human.”

임영주 〈세타〉 4채널 비디오 17분 52초 2020 사진제공 아트인컬처

Im Youngzoo 〈Theta (세타)〉 4-channel video 17 minutes 52 seconds 2020. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Im Youngzoo
Im Youngzoo depicts uncertain ‘faith’ through various medium, including painting, video, sound, and text. The artist points out the cracks in modern society by merging rationality and irrationality, science and superstition, recognition and imagination, and established theories and hearsay. The faith we carry unknowingly, can we trust it?

유지원 〈노동의 가치〉 더블채널 비디오, 혼합재료 가변크기 사진제공 아트인컬처

Yu Jiwon 〈Value of Labor〉 double-channel video, mixed materials dimensions variable. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Yu Jiwon
Yu Jiwon works with video and installations that project abandoned spaces, lost times, and past memories. The artist summons the fragments of time to reproduce the ruins made by individuals and society. “I appropriate construction images that repeat creation and destruction in one space-time or reproduce the ‘decorative value’ by using actual construction materials.”

권하형 〈벗어난 지도 #3〉 캔버스에 피그먼트 프린트 110×166cm 2020 사진제공 아트인컬처

Kwon Hahyung 〈<(Maybe)deviated Map #3〉 )> pigment print on canvas, 110×166cm 2020. Image provided by Art in Culture.

Kwon Hahyung
Kwon Hahyung seeks out the sites of certain incidents or places to be demolished, takes photos and prints them on canvas. The artist captures the fear of disappearing and worries and longings of things that will, in the end, change. Kwon captures them in photos as “the things of no importance have no choice but naturally pass by, disappearing.”

박인선 〈뿌리 series 01〉 혼합재료 91×72.7cm 2014 사진제공 아트인컬처

Park Insun 〈Root series 01 〉 mixture 91×72.7cm 2014 Image provided by Art in Culture.

Park Insun
Park Insun creates ‘combine painting’ by recording spaces that change over time in photographs and adding painting elements to them. The artist implicitly portrays the many stories and expressions in landscapes and adds unrealistic elements through brush strokes. “All fears appear in the face of unpredictability. The arrogance of human trying to control nature and endless desires….”

〈우리 안의 우리_state〉 시멘트, IUF, 철근 등 혼합재료 132×61×41cm 2017 사진제공 아트인컬처

Ahn Hyochan 〈’WE’ are in the ‘CAGE’_state 〉 mixed materials of cement, IUF, and steel bar 132×61×41cm 2017 Image provided by Art in Culture.

Ahn Hyochan
Rusty structures, construction site, dead pig…. The pig, which is associated with ordinary people, workers, the environment, life, and foot-and-mouth disease, is the core element that summarizes the work of Ahn Hyochan. “Ahn’s theatre stage-like work portrays the smallness and brutality of man and the hidden side of the city. There are things we can only see up close. We miss them in our lives but are reminded of them through his work.” (Lee Dongmin)

하민지 〈어디에도 속하지 않게 되었다〉 캔버스에 아크릴 각 193.9×112.1cm(10점) 2020 사진제공 아트인컬처

Ha Minji 〈No Longer Belong to Any Place〉acrylic on canvas, 193.9×112.1cm(10pieces) 2020 Image provided by Art in Culture.

Ha Minji
Ha Minji captures man’s violence and contradictions. The artist observes the relationship between human and animals and compare the problems that arise in animal breeding to reality. The 10-piece painting interprets the sharp conveyor belt into strange chunks and pieces, depicting the cruelty of animal slaughter.

박성완 〈절치부심〉 캔버스에 유채 41×32cm 2019 사진제공 아트인컬처

Park Sungwan 〈Rage〉 oil on canvas, 41×32cm 2019 Image provided by Art in Culture.

Park Sungwan
Park Sungwan reflects landscapes and existence around him in realism painting. The artist expresses social messages, including the lyrical landscapes of the southern parts of the country, family, scenes of changing city, and construction sites, onto his canvas. “Park reproduces the colors reflected off of objects and warm colors responding to time on his canvas, building a repertoire.” (Lee Sun)

안동일 〈불나방-1(14;15)〉 디지털 피그먼트 프린트 40×60cm 2015 사진제공 아트인컬처

An Dongil 〈Moth-1(14:15) 〉 digital pigment print 40×60cm 2015 Image provided by Art in Culture.

An Dongil
An Dongil captures the unfamiliarity in everyday scenery in his paintings, photography, and video. “Repeated observation leads to discovery, and repeated records led to my work. The dizziness from this left a scratch on me. And the scratch is what motivates me onto my next piece.” The artist started taking photos of the plaques of Admiral Yi Sunsin and Sejong the Great among others since 2016. He reveals the gap in past and present perceptions around the plaques as hollow signifier.

한솔 〈즉흥잼: 문은 열리고 닫히지 않는다〉 싱글채널 비디오, 의자, 테이블, 카드 2020 사진제공 아트인컬처

Han Sol 〈JAM: Doors to not open and close〉 8 chairs, 4 tables, 24 cards, performance video projection, interview video of 8 artists, Oculus Quest, size variable. 2020. Image provided by Artinculture.

Han Sol
The subject of Han Sol’s work is contemporary arts and young artists. Starting from the question ‘what is exhibition, work, artist, and the art world’, Han compiles her perspectives into various archives. The response from the audience who observe her work is also another reference as well as another question.

이은희 〈BLOOD CAN BE VERY BAD〉 싱글채널 비디오 9분 16초 2018 사진제공 아트인컬처

Lee Eunhee 〈BLOOD CAN BE VERY BAD〉 single-channel video 9 minutes 16 seconds 2018. Image provided by Artinculture.

Lee Eunhee
Lee Eunhee compares the ontological issue of human to the mechanism of technology. She especially explores the contemporary life which exists based on data. Lee recently works on capturing and contemplating on how one individual is altered into having multiple images or is replaced as part of the system of technology industry.

한솔 〈Boys don’t cry: And.. 〉 혼합재료 가변크기 2020 사진제공 아트인컬처

Han Sol 〈Boys don’t cry: And.. 〉 mixed materials dimensions variable 2020 Image provided by Artinculture.

Han Sol
Han Sol actively produces, captures, and enjoys the subculture of social media in the post-Internet era. The artist recreates a reality filled with hostility and scorn using the language used in social media. “ is full of typical butch lesbian symbols and mise-en-scène. The artist visualizes the strong emotions of those considered minorities of online ghetto.” (Nam Woong)

이한솔  혼합재료 가변크기 2019

Lee Hansol, mixed materials dimensions variable 2019, Image provided by Artinculture.

Lee Hansol
Lee Hansol uses books soaked in coffee, washing machines, ironing boards, shoe polish, mannequin, and massagers as materials. The artist, who recreates new context for materials based on experience, explains the work as “a process of tracking and specifying stopped time.” The artist’s work is the outcome of exploring the strictly regulated social system and the lives of modern people who live in that system.

정명우 <.bhv> 퍼포먼스 50분 2020

Jung Myungwoo <.bhv> > performance 50 minute. Image provided by Artinculture.

Jung Myungwoo
Jung Myungwoo has collaborated with many creators. The artist reinterprets movements he captured in his collaborative work into performance. Jung explores movements by linking gestures using tools, walk, and gestures made into ‘memes’ to installations. <.bvh> is the file extension of motion capture data. The artist imagines a fictional near future where all movements are recorded by motion capture, tracking the way movements unfold through performance.

Related articles

Neo-sculpture, Conflicting Materials : Newcomers 77, The Young Powers of Korean Art Selected by Nine Art Experts
Meta-Painting, the Never Ending ‘Flat Surface Mission’ : Newcomers 77, The Young Powers of Korean Art Selected by Nine Art Experts
Hashtag Culture, the ‘Virtual Hierarchy’ of Real and Fake : Newcomers 77, The Young Powers of Korean Art Selected by Nine Art Experts
Micro-Narrative, A Sea of Micro Stories : Newcomers 77, The Young Powers of Korean Art Selected by Nine Art Experts

※ This column is published in the February 2021 edition of Monthly Art, posted by Korea Arts Management Service under a content agreement with Monthly Art.

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