South Korean Contemporary Art

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 minute holes of various sizes into black 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. In Choi's work, we see both the natural and the manmade, rendered in meticulous detail through this highly skilled process of image making. 


Hong Sungchul's subtle and artful constructions pose questions about how we live in the virtual, and sometimes disconnected, world. In his 'Perceptual Mirror' series — 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. Hong aims to reclaim a sense of intimacy, engagement and understanding in his work, where fast moving and blurry perceptions are slowed down and examined and the beauty of the simple and everyday are revealed.


Hwang Seontae’s work takes the form of the 'light box', constructed from layers of printed and etched glass, depicting coolly 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. The artist has made a stage-set for the action of the sun, its rays lighting the man made interior, bringing a moment of clarity and awareness.


Mari Kim uses the language of Manga, Disney and Pop Art to make her glossily realized 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. These are rigorously graphic representations, assemblages of print, paint and mixed-media, flatly rendered, with no evidence of brush mark or hand.


Lee Jungwoong creates large-scale, hyper-real images of traditional paintbrushes accompanied by the marks, blotches and splashes that they make. The brush itself is rendered in colored oil paint, while its mark is depicted in monochromatic ink. The surface is hanji, Korean paper, mounted onto canvas, its absorbent and receptive skin appropriate for capturing the expressive power of the ink. We experience the contrast and tension between the controlled handling of the motif and the gestural excitement of the attendant brush mark.


Lee Leenam uses classical, art-historical images as the basis of his animations. Upon these masterpieces 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. Lee breathes new life and re-animates the authoritatively familiar, underscoring the continuous modification and flux of life.