At Kang Collection Korean Art's March 2008 Show, Classic Art Inspires Contemporary Painters CONTEMPORARY ART, CLASSIC INSPIRATION: Influences of Buddhist and Literati Art on Contemporary Korean painting, juxtaposes contemporary art by Ik-Joong Kang and Her Suyoung with classic works
Ik-Joong Kang’s works in Contemporary Art, Classic Inspiration are done in his unique style of 3x3 in. miniature paintings, arranged in a colorful grid. Kang explains how, as a student at Pratt, he developed his trademark technique:
“I developed the 3 x 3-inch format...in response to practical necessity. As an impoverished student, I worked a total of twelve hours a day at a Korean grocery store in Manhattan, and as a watchman at a flea market in Rockaway, Queens. Looking for ways to effectively utilize time spent on long subway rides, I discovered that 3-inch square canvases fit easily into my pocket and into the palm of my hand. My lengthy commute became transformed into work time in a mobile studio.”
Kang has exhibited widely, including a one-person exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York, and a two-person exhibition with Nam June Paik at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Connecticut. He has had group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul. His works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Ludwig Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Lee-um Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. He has created permanent installations for the San Francisco International Airport, New Jersey Transit Authority, and MTA of New York. Kang’s awards include a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship. Kang received a BFA from Hong-Ik University and a MFA from Pratt, lives and works in New York, with his wife and son.
About Her Suyoung (b. 1972)
One of few young contemporary Korean painters still working in the classic medium of ink and paper, Her Suyoung(b. 1972) cites Wan g Meng (c. 1308-1385), one of the Four Great painters of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), as a major inspiration. While Mr. Her, who derives his structure, subject, medium and elements from classical literati landscape, is as formidable a master of form and composition as the literati greats, he eschews the traditional Neo-Confucian virtues of detachment and calm, even
as he conveys the grandeur and drama of monumental landscape.
In his 2007 painting My Cob 341026, Mr. Her embraces—even revels in—the sinuous and sensual dynamism of the clouds, which wrap intimately around the mountain crags. A stark intensity roils within his impenetrable black shadows and voids, an effect created by the painstaking application of layer upon layer of ink over many weeks. The winsome bicycle that perches precariously on a rocky outcrop is the titular “My Cob.” “My Cob” (in Korean “Jeuk-to-ma”) is the English translation for the noble steed ridden by Guan Yu (died 219 A.D.), the famed Chinese general whose horse’s mythical ability to travel 1,000 ri (400 km) in a single night made him invincible in all major battles. The bicycle, a signature fixture in many of Mr. Her’s landscapes, replaces the