Palazzetto Tito, Venice, Italy
Curated by Sunjung Kim
Kukje Art and Culture Foundation is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Ha Chong–hyun at Palazzetto Tito (Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa) as a Collateral Event of the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
Predominantly known for his Dansaekhwa paintings, Ha Chong–hyun has relentlessly devoted his lifelong career to exploring and understanding materials and their properties. The retrospective, featuring a curated selection of more than twenty of Ha’s works from the past six decades, will present the full breadth of his materials, methods, and creative experimentation. Curated by Sunjung Kim, Artistic Director of Art Sonje Center, Seoul, South Korea, the exhibition will comprise five sections: (1) the 1967–68 Naissance series that highlights traditional elements and White Paper on Urban Planning series that addresses urbanization; (2) the early 1960s Informel style, works produced during Ha’s involvement with the Korean Avant-Garde Association (AG) since 1969, and his early Conjunction series; (3) the 1990s to 2010s that reveal the progression of his Conjunction series; (4) the Post-Conjunction series from 2008 to 2012; and (5) latest works dated after 2020, along with new pieces produced for the show.
Trained as a painter and quickly emerging as a leading artist during the period of postwar reconstruction in Korea, Ha began his career by developing his own artistic vocabulary beyond the bounds of painting, reflecting his broad interests in the contemporary social milieu. After graduating from Hongik University, Seoul, South Korea in 1959, he produced abstract works which were linked to the then prevalent Korean Informel movement, but his distinctive use of dark tones, which he created by burning the canvas surface with fire, distinguished his works from the mainstream. The resulting palette evoked a powerful balance of aesthetic refinement and the bleak spirit of the time, an era still shadowed by the traumas of war.
Upon returning from his participation in the Biennale de Paris in 1965, the artist shifted his practice, exploring Korean traditional decorative art methods such as the dancheong patterns, colors, and weaving. Between 1969 and 1973, as an active member of the avant-garde artist collective named AG (Avant-Garde Association), he experimented with space by producing site-specific installations; it was during this period that Ha began to make three-dimensional works with non-traditional materials such as barbed wire, plaster, timber, newspaper, and the burlap that was used to transport food aid from the U.S. following the Korean War. In 1974 he began his acclaimed Conjunction series which employs bae-ap-bub, the artist’s innovative method of pushing oil paint through the back of the coarse canvas weave to the front. This approach personifies Ha’s commitment to constantly challenging the status quo and developing a unique artistic vocabulary. Surveying his oeuvre, this exhibition will capture not only the artist’s endless creative and experimental energy, but also his pioneering role in the development of "contemporary" Korean art.
The exhibition curator Sunjung Kim shared, “having lived through Korea’s turbulent modern history that encompasses the Korean War and the division of the peninsula, the postwar economic development policy, and the military regime—all within a period marked by Japanese Occupation, Liberation, and the Cold War, Ha is living proof that art and society are inseparable.”