The walls were dotted with creative fervor. Curators lined up the front, vacant seats. The once rowdy room became still, and quiet.
Headed by art dealer Dominique Levy and art gallery Greene Naftali, arrives a lengthy showcase — and subsequent conversation – regarding a somewhat new and unfamiliar addition to the field of Picasso, Da Vinci and Van Gogh.
Dansaekhwa, otherwise known as “Tansaekhwa”, is a style of Korean art that had emerged from a late twentieth century movement that revolutionized the framework for Korea’s art industry. Dansaekhwa is a type of artistic minimalism that caters well to fans of western monochrome paintings — with a sense of creative fervor that is sure to appeal to enthusiasts.
Donning the appearance of the abstract, Dansaekhwa pieces work with neutral colors, grid lines and repetition to create stylized compositions that describe the Korean narrative – down to the canvas. The process is intricate and involves a copious amount of water, glue, kaolin clay and patience. The final result: a mixture of lines on a grid surface that meld together in perfect harmony.
Historical context includes a change in pace from traditional norms; as the origin story for Dansaekhwa can be traced back to the post-WW2 and subsequent Korean War throes. Devastation and destruction unbounded. Hope was sparse, and of course, humans turn to other outlets to find solace among chaotic times. Dansaekhwa emerged as a rebellious figure – a newcomer to the world of art – catering to many.
This show, hosted by Dominique Levy, has been the first exhibition held by famous Korean artist Chung Sang-Hwa in the United States. Sang-Hwa, born in 1932, has his work in several locations across the globe; this includes the U.S., Japan and Seoul. For many, he is considered to be the harbinger of the Dansaekhwa artstyle.
“Paper has to be alive and choppy. Canvas work also refers to humidity. It is like a pulse and a breath. The picture thus moves choppily. The final result is not the target of my work but to present the process of how it is done,” according to Sang-Hwa — transcribed on the wall by his displayed artworks.
Curators and audience-members alike asked Sang-Hwa several questions regarding his work. Sang-Hwa had an immediate translator by his side.
Q: How do you come across the process of making the work?
A: All artists go through a process. And I have confidence that others do the same.
Q: Have you ever considered your work to be abstract before 1980?
A: If someone came up to me at the time and asked me that, I would say: “Is it? Maybe.” but, I don’t think in my mouth there came an answer that this is abstract.
Q: When you moved to Paris, to Japan, back to Korea how has the constant moving influenced your work?
A: Depending on where I went influenced me little by little. and changed me depending on the situation and art. Whatever that place’s historical perspective would’ve been had also influenced me. I visited art museums and exhibits numerous times. Not just once or twice but hundreds of times and naturally those kinds of efforts changed me.
The exhibition, with works by Chung Sang-Hwa, consists of his Dansaekhwa portraits. The display will be available to the public from June 1st to July 31st on 909 Madison Ave, on East 73rd Street.