LA Art Show Spotlights Korean Art

The layered, monochrome contemporary art movement that dominated 20th century Korean art, Dansaekhwa, is on exhibit at the L.A. Art Show this week inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, with a spotlight on the works of Kim Tae-ho. In addition, a new space, Design L.A. Art, displays as its centerpiece the nature-infused sculptures of Lee Jae Hyo, another Korean artist.

The show kicked off Wednesday and will run through Sunday inside the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Though the event draws paintings, sculptures, paper works, installations, photography, design, videos and performances from more than 100 galleries in 18 countries, Korean art in particular has been a popular presence in recent years, especially with a resurgence of international interest in Dansaekhwa, which translates to “monochrome painting.”

Pieces by one of Dansaekhwa's leading figures, Kim Tae-ho, is highlighted at the L.A. Art Show. (Mary Grace Costa/Kore Asian Media)
Pieces by one of Dansaekhwa’s leading figures, Kim Tae-ho, is highlighted at the L.A. Art Show. (Mary Grace Costa/Kore Asian Media)

Kim, one of the movement’s leading names, is the latest Dansaekhwa artist to be brought to the show. His series of paintings, “Internal Rhythm,” was curated by Simon Kwon, the director of SM Fine Art Gallery. Kwon said Kim, as well as his contemporaries, have been shown in major museums worldwide, and seen their work become collectibles not only in Korea but in Hong Kong, New York and Europe. Dansaekhwa has proven to be “sensationally” popular among art collectors, galleries and museums, he said.

“The ’60s and ’70s were an era when Korean artists broke sweat and blood to create a contemporary form of art [Dansaekhwa] that manifests a national identity,” Kwon said. Pointing to other contemporary artists like Mari Kim and Kim Tchang-yeul, whose works can also be seen at the event this year, Kwon said the Dansaekhwa movement has helped bring more general attention to Korean art since its global breakout around 2015.

This year, the art show is introducing Design L.A. Art, a new segment showcasing the fusion and balance between design and furniture. The works of Lee Jae Hyo will serve as centerpieces this year, in particular “0121-1110=115102,” a wooden arch.

Hoojung Lee, director of Korean Art Affairs for the show, said Lee Jae Hyo connects fine art with design in a “sincere, original and organic” style. “[He] sees ordinary or mundane materials and elements in nature with his keen artistic eyes, then transforms them into profound monumental sculptures including functional art in the most minimalistic way,” she said.

Artist Mari Kim rose in popularity after collaborating with K-pop group 2NE1 for their 2011 song "Hate You." (Mary Grace Costa/Kore Asian Media)
Artist Mari Kim rose in popularity after collaborating with K-pop group 2NE1 for their 2011 song “Hate You.” (Mary Grace Costa/Kore Asian Media)

Lee Jae Hyo (Courtesy photo)
Hoojung Lee, L.A. Art Show’s director of Korean Art Affairs, describes Lee Jae Hyo’s work as “a concentrated sculpture version of land art by Andy Goldsworthy.” (Courtesy photo)

Kim Tae-ho (Courtesy photo)
Simon Kwon, curator of the exhibit, praised Kim Tae-ho’s work for its “rhythm and energy.”  (Courtesy photo)

Kim Martindale, L.A. Art Show producer and partner, said in a statement that the event continues to expand as it brings in art from around the world, to showcase alongside pieces produced locally in Los Angeles. “There is a spotlight on Los Angeles today,” Martindale said.

Hoojung Lee said the city is a particularly important one for Korean artists. “Los Angeles has the largest population of Koreans outside of Seoul, so we’re building a bridge for cross pollination,” she said.

Korean manhwa is also on display at the show ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in webtoon form, including sports-themed stories. The Korea Manhwa Contents Agency, which brought the webtoons to the event, is also putting on a live drawing show by Korean comic artist Jung-gi Kim.

The art show’s partner this year is the Museum of the Arts of Guadalajara, and its local partnerships include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Autry Museum of the American West and the Museum of Latin American Art. Last year’s show saw an attendance of nearly 70,000.