Side By Side
ART REPUBLIK|Dec - Feb 2018

Opera Gallery Showcases Dansekhwa and Gutai Artists

Rachel Ng

In recent years, the artworld has been a champion of modern and contemporary Korean art. Opera Gallery’s showcase at the upcoming edition of Art Stage Singapore 2018 is an indication that the spotlight is still shining bright, and that regional interest in the genre remains strong.

Highlighting the paintings of Korean artists Sung-Hee Cho (b. 1949) and Kwangyup Cheon (b. 1958), the gallery’s presentation is a study in sublime contrast and complement. Both Cho and Cheon trace their artistic roots to Dansaekhwa or the Monochrome Movement in 1960s-80s Korea, and there are more parallels in their artistic journeys. Both pursued fine art graduate studies in the US at the Pratt Institute in New York; Cho also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Otis/ Parsons Art Institute, Los Angeles. As artists continuing in the Korean minimalist painting style however, their divergence in stylistic approaches and inspiration speaks subtly to the different timeless and contemporary forces that have shaped Korean culture today.

The tempered restraint of their works is the foil to the other star piece in Opera Gallery’s showcase, an early 1962 painting by the Japanese Gutai master Kazuo Shiraga (1925-2008). Gutai, the Japanese post-war avantgarde movement founded in Osaka in 1954, advocated originality and individualism. Its members sought to create a new authentic Japanese aesthetic that would redeem and restore Japanese culture from the mindless conformity that had seemingly led the country to war.

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