SUH Seung-Won: A Half Century of Endeavor and Serenity
ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL opens A Half Century of Endeavor and Serenity from March 9th to April 29th, 2018, the solo exhibition of Suh Seung-Won (b. 1941) who is one of the most renowned artists in the history of Korea’s abstract painting. The exhibition presents 23 works of Simultaneity series, spanning 50 years of his artistic career, including the geometric abstract paintings of the 1960s to the 1980s that were rarely exhibited, and the more recent productions leading up to 2018.
As a leading figure in contemporary Korean abstract art, Suh sought out a new trend in Korea’s art scene in the 1960s amidst the sweeping tides of national art exhibition-centered realism and the anti-formalist movement, Informel. Having spent the university years in the aftermath and ordeal of the 4.19 revolution, in 1963, he founded ‘Origin’ in pursuit of more hard-edged and less expressionistic abstract art. Subsequently in 1969, Suh, as a member of ‘A.G. (Korean Avant-Garde Association)’, attempted to establish a new aesthetic consciousness.
The geometric abstract painting he presented at the Korean Young Artists Association Exhibition in 1967, in which he used traditional five colors, signaled the beginning of Korean modern painting in its radically new attempt, defying the dominant trend of irregular and dark Informel style in the Korean art world. Suh grafted traditional Korean design elements to his abstract painting as a way of crafting out the identity of Korean painting, incorporating the ceramics he saw at the traditional Korean house he used to live in, ‘Wanja-mun (卍-shaped pattern)’ for door muntin, and the white shade of light passing through changhoji (traditional Korean hanji paper for doors and windows). His paintings in the 1970s were exemplary of his distinctive style in representative of simple composition of squares and lines, and calm neutral shades and margins, foreshadowing the future of Dansaekhwa (Korean monochrome painting). Contemporary iterations of Simultaneity, after having undergone his formative experiments in the 1990s, explores beyond the sharp and restricted composition, incorporating a more liberal and unrestrained style, bearing soft hues overlapping across boundaries. The flat plane, moving away from its adherence to strict orders of control and constructive structures, has morphed into the space of contemplation, meditation, and freedom after years of subjective interpretation and self-identification.
This solo exhibition of Suh Seung-Won will provide the viewers an opportunity to discover the most significant works from the artist which attest to his artistic journey throughout the past half century. By observing his life-time works of Simultaneity series, brought together, viewers will be able to appreciate his persistent exploration in the domain of painting, and the ongoing challenge of an artist moving across the times until today.
Suh Seung-Won has been a practicing artist for over five decades and has exhibited in a number of key exhibitions such as The Korean Young Artists Association Exhibition(Korean Information Center, Seoul, Korea, 1967), White from 5 Korean Artists(Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 1973), Contemporary Korean Art(Tokyo Central art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 1977), École de Seoul(Seoul, Korea, 1975), Korean Contemporary Art: Unique Artistic Movement in the late 70s(Japan, 1983). More recently, Suh has been included in some high profile exhibitions that highlight the increasing interest in Dansaekhwa and a major survey exhibition, Dansaekhwa: Korean Monochrome Painting(National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, Korea, 2012). Suh also had a group exhibition, Origin(Galerie Perrotin, Paris, France, 2016) with two fellow members of the Origin collective who all later became prominent Dansaekhwa artists. His works have been collected by National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul Museum of Art, Gwanju Museum of Art, The British Museum, Brooklyn Art Museum, Sapporo Contemporary Art Museum, Simonoseki Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.