Although COVID-19 is certainly still spreading, it seems to be becoming an endemic disease that we must live with. In many countries, restrictions have been lifted and life is very much like it was before the pandemic.
In the case of Korea, it has already been a few months since the Korean art world returned to its normal state. Art museums are no longer using their reservation systems to limit the number of visitors. And, due to the increased interest in art in the country, a number of reports have been released about art exhibitions and art fairs being crowded with many visitors
As many people are now gradually getting back to normal with new daily standards, we would like to introduce three emerging artists who take daily life as their subject matter or work with everyday objects in their artworks and who are participating in this year’s residency programs in Korea.
Artist Hoyeon Kang is a participating artist in the SeMA Nanji Residency program. Run by the Seoul Museum of Art, the SeMA Nanji Residency was opened in 2006 to hold programs to nurture talented Korean artists and researchers.
Kang creates works by rearranging everyday objects. He aims to evoke virtual senses that provide opportunities for viewers to experience the quotidian in a new way. Kang’s works conjure emotions that come from everyday life and even those we might have for a utopia. He often goes one step further and creates incongruity through the gap between the ideal and reality in his work.
For example, Campfire (2016), first exhibited at the Korean Cultural Centre UK in 2016 and later at other museums in Korea, can be described as an artificial bonfire made of a humidifier and lighting. The campfire installation does not generate heat, but the artist created a sensual atmosphere reminiscent of a bonfire.
His other work Re-Record Violet (2021), which was presented in Young Korean Artists 2021 at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, was an installation work that looked like a room filled with items related to city pop with a large image of Seoul’s nighttime horizon. The work, accompanied by visual and auditory senses, evokes the booming ambiance of Korea before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hoyeon Kang has held solo exhibitions at numerous institutions, including the Kumho Museum of Art, Insa Art Space, the Korean Cultural Centre UK, and Songeun Art Cube. His works were in group exhibitions held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), the Ilmin Museum of Art, the Gyeonggi Museum of Art, the Amado Art Space/Lab, the OCI Museum of Art, and the Daejeon Museum of Art.
Artist Ipkyu Jang is currently one of the participating artists in the artist-in-residency program at the Incheon Art Platform, which was opened in 2009 by renovating a historic building from the nineteenth century. The institution aims to promote contemporary art and enhance exchanges between Korea and abroad by discovering young artists who are active in various genres.
Jang explores how images in the digital age have influenced existing aesthetics. The gap between analog reality and the digital, virtual world is expressed in a humorous and witty manner by creating installations with objects around us. The images that exist on the digital screen are no longer based in reality. Based on this fact, the artist reproduces an image with editing technology applied to it in the real space.
Jang recreates digital techniques such as ‘cut,’ ‘copy,’ and ‘paste’ by hand. For instance, the work Delete comes with a carpet hung on the wall. Placed upon this carpet are sticks, tennis rackets, and mops, but as if the objects were neatly cut with photoshop techniques, the parts of the objects inside the carpet are replaced with spray drawings. The installation may look like a digital image from the front, but the image alters and distorts as the viewer changes their viewpoint.
IpKyu Jang has had solo exhibitions at the Cheongju Art Studio, CR Collective in Seoul, and the Gallery Art Room in Germany. He received a diploma in fine arts from the Kunst Academy Dusseldorf in Germany and studied “Meisterschüler” under Professor Marcel Odenbach. In addition to a residency at the Inchon Art Platform, he worked as a resident at the Cheongju Art Studio and was awarded the Public Art New Hero Grand Prize (Korea, 2022) and Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation’s Art Gyeonggi Artist award (Korea, 2022).
Ahn Kwang Hwee is participating in Seoul Art Space Geumcheon, which was opened in 2009 after remodeling a printing factory in Geumcheon-gu, Seoul, and is operated by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. Its residency program invites artists who work in various genres, including performance, criticism, science, humanities, and urban studies, as well as other, more traditional visual art genres.
Ahn Kwang Hwee’s works address various social issues and his thoughts about the art world by using musical elements. He works in a variety of genres, including video, drawing, installation, and performance. Hip-hop, in particular, is a genre that the artist has been enjoying since childhood and that is most familiar to him. Ahn talks about his identity and life as a millennial artist, as a Korean, and as the head of a family by borrowing various elements from hip-hop music, such as its musical form, its philosophy and ideology, and images coming from hip-hop and other forms of popular culture.
As with music, the artist seeks to elicit sympathy from the audience through his work, hoping to create a place for productive discussions in the process of empathizing with the artist. In his video work, he combines straightforward lyrics with symbolic, socially contextualized images. The images consist of ASCII art, which is an image that consists only of text and special characters, Internet memes, and video games.
Ahn Kwang Hwee had solo exhibitions at This Weeknd Room (Seoul, 2020), Project Space Sarubia (Seoul, 2019), and Seoul Art Space Seogyo (Seoul, 2017) and participated in a number of group exhibitions in Seoul, including Art Space Boan, the Alternative Space Loop, Oil Tank Culture Park, the Ilmin Museum of Art, and SeMA Bunker.