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Christie's HK Asian Contemporary Art Auction Preview

  The exhibition is quiet but hot with interest from the viewers.  The paintings were unique and unusual, a mixture of Asian and Western art. They resemble Western contemporary art, but looking at them more closely, I could realize the difference.  What a marvellous exhibit!  Where am I?

  This is the Christie's HK Asian Contemporary Art Auction Preview.  It was held at the Shinsegae Department Store from April 28th to May 2nd.  Christie's displayed 29 pieces by Korean, Chinese and Japanese artists for the upcoming spring sales in Hongkong.  This is the first preview exhibition in Seoul and shows that Korean contemporary art has grown in international prominence. Actually, 54 works of 37 Korean artists were offered for spring sales from May 24th to 25th in Hongkong.  This is a noticeable increase from the mere 9 paintings offered in Korea's first participation in the sale in 2004. 

 East Asian Contemporary Art

 Touring the exhibition, I was impressed by 'Enjoy Car Life-E' of Chiharu Nisizawa.  The road and cars, which are elements of modern industrial society, are placed in the middle of the canvas.  Around are large crowds who have the same face, wearing the same uniforms.  They seem to talk and quarrel with each other, they are even burying a corpse.  It is quite realistic.  As an observer, Chiharu shows the pressure of modern society in everyday life as humorous.  Chiharu Nisizawa is one of today’s most exciting young Japanese artists.  

  I was also moved by paintings of Chinese artists, Zhang Xiaogang and Liu ye.  Zhang's 'Bloodline: Big-family' series considered bloodlines.  His works were inspired by old family photos from the Cultural Revolution Period.  In the picture, siblings are staring at the front.  The yellow film on their faces symbolizes a mark of Chinese collectivism.  As he states, "We live in a big family, the first thing we learn is how to shut ourselves up in a secret small cell and pretend to keep step with all the other members of family."  In the portrait, their sad eyes reflect modern Chinese who experienced difficulty in a rapidly changing society. 

 'Lucas', painted by Liu ye, is a self-portrait.  He felt homesick as a foreign student in a foreign country and this was expressed in the extreme characterizing of his portrait.  It touched me deeply.  Blue-chip artists like Zhang Xiaogang were highlighted drawing record high prices in the various art auctions. 

 Won Sang-eun, Docent Educator at Shinsegae Gallery Department, said art should be pleasant so she recommended the works of Korehiko Hino.   Korehiko's paintings were impressive with the vivid and amazed eyes of her characters.  While she was talking, two children burst out laughing at Korehiko's art. 





 Korean Contemporary Art

  I was fascinated by one surreal painting which is similar to the works of Rene Magritte.  The background was a modern space, the room was dreary and dreamy, and all was suspended time.  Stones was floating in the air but why were stones there?  I think stones mean modern people who don't know where they are going.  Many doors in the room just aggravate their turmoil.  This impressive painting is called 'Still Life (rock clouds)' by Yoo Hyon-mi. 

                                                          08.05.01 Christie's Preview

 'Aggregation 06-AP016' by Chun Kwang-young is large and stands out from the others.  This exhibit is made up of Styrofoam with Korean papers forming unique angles adding texture.  The technique creates a cubic effect as if it is not only a  painting but a relief.  The triangular cells form an irregular movement that  destroys the order of the frame.  It reminded me of a crater; impressive even at a distance.  The materials and their basic concept are Korean but the expression is influenced by Western conceptual art.  Chun is creating a visual art, merging the traditional and the contemporary. Asia is considered as a late runner in the developing world so their artistic works have been devaluated until recently.  Asia has evolved into a global epicenter of the arts with artists from Asian countries, constructing their own world, accepting and rejecting Western notions. 

 There are particular circumstances that distinguish Asian Modern Art from Western Art.  "The world art market which was western-oriented has become saturated, so people had to find an alternative and Asian Contemporary art is it," said Kim Yoon-sub, the chief of Korean Arts Management Institute.  Asian art and artists have immerged from obscurity and now enjoy attention from audiences around the world. 

 Past, Present and a Bright Future


 I was looking forward to seeing this preview when I first saw the exhibition ad in the newspaper.  Of course, it was a great experience  It provided exposure for inexperienced artists and attracted audiences, who wanted to experience culturally diversity and a variety of arts.  According to Won Sang-eun, about 1,000 people visit each day with some of them showing an interest in art investment.  It means that more novices are developing a global vision.  Although they are not collectors, they can revitalize the art market by buying paintings or by collecting and sharing information through the Internet or art fairs. 

 Because of the Christie's preview, art auction is becoming more famous.  "We expect the value of the art market to increase over the long term," said Kim Yoon-sub.  He is optimistic about the Korean art market because Korea has formed a market for the Korean art in recent years and the number of interested novices is increasing rapidly.  Shin Su-jeong, Christie's Department manager, said that to advance Korean art, artists, collectors, galleries and auction firms must always be faithful to their roles, based on the nation's affection for art and with the support of government. 

 Christie's HK Asian Contemporary Art auction preview was an opportunity that gave me a new perspective on current artistic trends.  I hope to see Christie's preview again next year and I long for the day that other renowned art fairs will be held in Seoul. 

The Post reporter

Jun Ji-min









Jun Ji-min  onlyonejm@dongguk.edu

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