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Korean art scene comes together to tout presence at Venice Biennale

Feb. 1, 2024 - 19:04 By Park Yuna
Arts Korea Council Chair Choung Byoung-gug speaks to the press Wednesday at a joint press conference for the upcoming Venice Biennale. (Yonhap)

Different players spanning the Korean art scene came together Wednesday in Seoul to discuss plans for presenting Korean art at the upcoming Venice Biennale, where more than 50 Korean artists are to be shown.

It was an unprecedented joint press conference held ahead of the global art event with the participation of a government entity, a museum, commercial galleries, art foundations and the Gwangju Biennale. The joint press conference was led by Arts Council Korea, the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the biennale.

“We will show a special exhibition to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Korean Pavilion, coinciding with the biennale. As the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion, we wanted to play a pivotal role in supporting and promoting Korean art. When we asked galleries and foundations for a joint press conference to present their plan together for the biennale, thankfully they all agreed to the aim,” said Arts Korea Council Chair Choung Byoung-gug.

The 60th Venice Biennale kicks off April 20, to run through Nov. 24 at the Giardini and Arsenale in the northern Italy city. A total of 332 artists will be featured at the main exhibition with the theme of “Stranieri Ovunque -- Foreigners Everywhere,” curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Alongside the main exhibition, 90 national pavilions will present unique exhibitions.

Four Korean artists -- Kim Yun-shin, Lee Kang-seung, Chang Woo-soung and Lee Qoe-de -- are participating in the main exhibition, while Koo Jeong-a will be the sole artist at the Korean Pavilion, presenting “Odorama Cities,” curated by Jacob Fabricius and Lee Seol-hui, which will take visitors on a "scent journey," transforming the pavilion into a sensorial space of smell and color, according to the Arts Korea Council.

The 30th anniversary exhibition for the Korean Pavilion, “Every Island Is Mountain.” will open at Ordine di Malta, showing archival materials and some of the works shown by the 38 artists featured at the Korean Pavilion from 1995 to 2022. The exhibition is curated by Lim Geun-hye, director of the Arko Art Center.

Gallery Hyundai will introduce Korean art master Rhee Seund-ja at the collateral exhibition of the biennale, “Rhee Seundja: Towards the Antipodes.” Born in 1918, the artist left for Paris in 1951 and explored her own visual language utilizing geometric patterns and the incorporation of Korean symbols and text. The exhibition is curated by Bartomeu Mari, a former director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

The gallery will also shed light on the legacy of Shin Sung-hy, an experimental artist of the 1970s and 1980s who received little recognition in the Korean art scene.

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation will showcase another collateral exhibition, “Madang-Where We Become Us,” looking back on 30 years of Asia’s oldest biennale.

Korea’s pioneering abstract artist Yoo Young-kuk’s first major solo exhibition, “A Journey to the Infinite: Yoo Youngkuk,” will be held as another collateral event of the biennale.

Taking place at the historic Palazzo Querini Stampalia, Yoo's exhibition will feature some 30 oil paintings, 14 prints, eight drawings and around 40 archival materials spanning the 1960s and 1970s, including a work collected by RM of K-pop phenomenon BTS, according to curator Kim In-hye. The exhibition is organized by Yoo Youngkuk Art Foundation.

Contemporary artist Lee Bae’s art will be introduced at the collateral exhibition “La Maison De La Lune Brulee,” organized by the Hansol Cultural Foundation and Wilmotte Foundation and curated by Valentina Buzzi.

Nine Dragon Heads, an international artists' collective, will present “Nomadic Party,” curated by the group's artistic director Park Byoung-uk, bringing together 35 artists and eight collectives from 16 countries at Spazio Punch.