Thousands of Colors, 60 Years
Arario Gallery Cheonan will be hosting a solo exhibition titled <Thousands of Colors, 60 Years> featuring the pioneering work of HWANG Gyutae (b. 1938), a leading figure in Korean avant-garde photography, from April 25th to October 8th, 2023. HWANG has always pursued experimentation and innovation in the field of photography, rather than conforming to mainstream or trends. Since his debut in the 1960s, he has been at the forefront of experimental photography, attempting various techniques such as burning films, appropriation and re-composition, analog montages, multiple exposures, and more, establishing himself as a provocative artist. In the 1980s, his interest shifted to digital images, leading him to explore digital montages, collages, and other experiments. From the 1990s onwards, he discovered the ‘pixels,’ the smallest units that make up an image, within digital images, and became absorbed in the infinite possibilities and visual playfulness of these geometric images, starting his "Pixel" series and continuing his passionate work until today.
However, it is not enough to evaluate HWANG's work solely based on his pioneering experimental spirit and attempts. The true uniqueness of HWANG's works lies in his curious desire for beauty and his cold yet warm gaze towards society that is evident throughout his photographs. The driving force that allowed the artist to continue his technical experiments and transformations for over 60 years undoubtedly originates from his curious desire for beauty, constantly seeking new aesthetics through the medium of photography. His attitude towards exploring beauty at that time was not limited to serious adherence to aesthetic norms, but rather free and unconstrained, resembling a young child at play. As a result, he approached various experiments and attempts without hesitation, and his visual outcomes were always bold and ahead of his time. At the same time, HWANG's works are rooted in the artist's gaze towards society. They reflect a melancholic or critical view of society, such as environmental issues, technological disasters, or the end of humanity based on the spirit of the times, as well as deeply emotional gazes towards ordinary subjects or nature. Despite the many adjectives and praises for HWANG as a pioneer of technical experimentation in photography, ultimately, photography is for him a tool to express subjective emotions rather than a gaze that simply captures and records objects. In this exhibition, I hope that you can experience both his sharp experimental spirit that has led him to be ahead of his time for 60 years, and his childlike aesthetic exploration and emotional gaze simultaneously through the results of his work.
HWANG Gyutae was born in Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do in 1938, graduated from Dongguk University's Department of Political Science, and then went on to become a photographer after working as a photographer at Kyunghyang Newspaper Cooperation. Starting with his solo exhibition at the Seoul Press Center in 1973, he participated in a total of 19 solo exhibitions and group exhibitions at Kumho Museum of Art, Art Sonje Center, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul Museum of Art, and Museum Hanmi.