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Yun Hyong-keun: Yun/Paris/Yun

Yun Hyong-keun

Installation view of Yun Hyong-keun – Yun,Paris,Yun at PKM

PKM Gallery is excited to announce the solo exhibition Yun/Paris/Yun presenting the master of Korean contemporary art, Yun Hyong-keun1928-2007, from May 2nd to June 29th. This exhibition marks the first opening in Korea in three years since Memories of Yun Hyong-keun in 2021 at PKM Gallery. It features 27 works, include hanji pieces produced in Paris in the 1980s, linen paintings around that period, exhibited works from Yun’s solo exhibition at Galerie Jean Brolly in 2002, and pieces from closely surrounding that time period, along with previously unveiled works in Korea. The exhibition is curated to offer a new perspective on the progression of Yun’s 20 years of art by focusing on two pivotal phases: his residency in Paris and the periods preceding and following it.

Installation view of Yun Hyong-keun – Yun,Paris,Yun at PKM

In December 1980, Yun departed for Paris, driven by frustration and anger over the unstable political climate by the military dictatorship in Korea. There/While in Paris, he sought to objectively assess whether the concept of “The Gate of Heaven and Earth” that he had been exploring could achieve a unique independence and universal sensibility within the European art context. Working within the constraints of a narrow studio space in Paris, Yun took a slightly different approach. Previously, he had achieved unity and painterly balance between heaven and earth by smearing diluted paint on the raw surfaces of linen or cotton. While maintaining the same paint and technique, he also aimed to provide a more meticulous exposition of his artistic intentions by incorporating Korean traditional material, hanji. After approximately a year and a half in Paris, Yun returned to Korea with increased confidence in the content and language of his paintings.

Yun Hyong-keun, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine, 1981

Yun’s second association with Paris occurred in 2002 when he held a solo exhibition at Galerie Jean Brolly. During his visit to Korea, the art dealer Jean Brolly provided Yun with an apartment in Paris, where he stayed for three months to create large-scale paintings intended for display at Galerie Jean Brolly in the same fall. Having solidified his artistic approach and structure with confidence after encountering Donald Judd(1928-1994) in 1991, Yun was able to demonstrate mature and deeper outcomes in the Paris exhibition. While the essence of his painting was delicately embodied in small hanji screens during his initial period in Paris in the early 1980s, it was more boldly and powerfully captured on large canvases during his second Paris period in the early 2000s.

Yun Hyong-keun, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine, 2002

Paris is anticipating hosting the Olympics this year and is reclaiming its position as the center of contemporary art globally, following in the footsteps of New York and London. Yun’s solo exhibition at David Zwirner Paris in early 2023 garnered significant attention. Presenting Yun’s works created before, during, and after his time in Paris at this juncture will provide an opportunity to observe the transformation of his art from an international and fresh perspective.

Installation view of Yun Hyong-keun – Yun,Paris,Yun at PKM

Yun has been representing Korea’s Dansaekhwa aesthetics on the global stage by applying the mixture of the pigments ‘ultramarine’, symbolizing the sky, and ‘umber’, signifying the ground, onto raw canvas or hanji. From the process to the result, his works, which eliminate hierarchy and technique, align with the artist’s ideology of seeking harmony between life and art. Hence, his personality, spirited but humble, simple yet dignified, is revealed in his works. His solo exhibitions have been held at major art institutions including the Judd Foundation (New York, USA), the Chinati Foundation (Texas, USA), Palazzo Fortuny (Venice, Italy), Hastings Contemporary (Hastings, UK), and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul, Korea). Yun has been invited to various international art events and exhibitions such as the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1969 and 1975 and the Venice Biennale in 1995. Yun’s paintings are part of the permanent collections of institutions including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul, Korea), the Leeum Museum of Art (Seoul, Korea), Tate Modern (London, UK), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA), The Cleveland Museum of Art (Ohio, USA), Glenstone (Maryland, USA), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan).

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