What’s Up in Seoul: September–October 2020
As another wave of Covid-19 grips South Korea, art galleries have implemented social distancing and contact tracing, with many open only by appointment. Here is a selection of shows to look out for in the coming weeks.
Aug 13–Sep 27
a’strict, the media-art wing of design agency d’strict, has created an immersive environment for its debut exhibition at Kukje Gallery’s K3 space. Visitors find themselves plunged into Starry Beach (2020), an audiovisual installation of a surging ocean on a starlit night. Seamless panels allow bubbling tides to sweep across the exhibition space, while the sound of crashing waves echoes in the gallery, dwarfing the viewer and drawing attention to human relationships with nature and technology.
Aug 27–Sep 29
In “Her Sides of Us,” Jinnie Seo presents a number of new works that explore the emotional links between humans and the spaces they inhabit. In one room, copper grid structures hang from floor to ceiling, defining and augmenting the space; in another, gold and silver bird-like forms appear to undulate on two-meter-tall curved canvases. Seo’s Copper Open Cube Sculptures (2020) delineate a path through the exhibition, creating a singular journey that bridges the consciousnesses of viewer and artist.
Sep 1–Nov 14
“Lost in Parody” showcases new and recent works by Eko Nugroho, one of Indonesia’s foremost contemporary artists. In 2007, in an attempt to revitalize the traditional artistry of embroidery, Nugroho began collaborating with a local village to produce large-scale embroidered works that subtly comment on chaos, discrimination, and violence. The show also includes acrylic canvases populated by characters inspired by mythology and folklore. Inspired by the traditional dyeing technique of batik and the sharp, angular figures of wayang, an ancient form of Indonesian shadow puppet theater, Nugroho’s vivid works emphasize the power of community.
Sep 2–Oct 11
Gallery Hyundai presents Choi Minhwa’s Once Upon a Time series, begun in the late 1990s, in full for the first time. Comprising around 60 paintings and 40 drawings and sketches, the body of work explores myths and legends from Korean and Buddhist traditions, as well as scenes inspired by Renaissance art. The oil paintings, which are dominated by tones of pale yellow, tell stories of kings born in eggs and bears becoming women, uniting cultural iconographies and folkloric traditions of East and West.
Sep 3–Oct 31
“Souls” brings together three large-scale video installations by Jennifer Steinkamp exploring the languid cycles of nature. Documenting the passage of time via autumnal birch trees, underwater plants bubbling during photosynthesis, and chains of daisies swaying in the breeze, the animations invite a consideration of nature at a microcosmic level. Steinkamp’s looping projections encompass a mesmerizing manipulation of space and time that celebrates life and regeneration.
Sep 2–Oct 24
Nigel Cooke’s first solo exhibition in Seoul presents a new series of paintings. Vivid brushstrokes curl and ripple across sheets of paper from school exercise books, evoking a distinct sense of place and nostalgia; titles such as “Dune,” “Cove,” and “Channel” draw further connections to geography and landscape. These seven works are presented alongside larger pieces including Reader and Helios (both 2020), abstract compositions rendered in oil and acrylic on raw linen.
Aug 26–Sep 27
Yoon Hyangro’s distinctive “pseudo-painting” technique deconstructs and reorganizes images from popular media and everyday life onto canvases through digital processing. The artist pays homage to her digital inspiration in the scratches of paint on each canvas that recall captcha images, used to differentiate between humans and bots. Embedded in the works are subtle references to Yoon’s personal life interspersed with nods to art history, crafting a unique collective portrait of the artist.
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