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First Solo Exhibition in Hong Kong by Renowned Korean Sculptor Yi Hwan Kwon
Yi Hwan Kwon, Trinity, 2009. Plastic, leather, steel. 240 x 80 x 233 cm.

HONG KONG.- Seoul Auction presents the first solo exhibition of renowned Korean sculptor Yi Hwan Kwon in Hong Kong – Scenes from Memory, which will be held from 12 to 22 November 2009 in the Pao Galleries of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. The exhibition will showcase an exceptional selection of over 20 works by Yi Hwan Kwon, including his recent Movies series, as well as Yi’s most outstanding creations that are greatly coveted both in Korea and abroad. A number of works on view in this exhibition come directly from the artist’s private collection, offering viewers a rare opportunity to enter into Yi’s distinctive art world.

An eminent and highly regarded contemporary Korean artist, Yi Hwan Kwon (b. 1974) creates sculptures bursting with originality and creativity that wow collectors and avid art lovers worldwide. Yi’s works are much sought after in the art market: in Seoul Auction’s Hong Kong ‘Modern and Contemporary Art’ sale in October 2008, his work Children of my next door sold for nearly HK$796,000, almost four times the pre-sale estimate, after fierce bidding.

Drawing inspiration from everyday life and his surrounding environment, Yi’s works depict people and scenes with whom we are familiar, yet in an unfamiliar perspective. Unlike traditional sculptures that are predominantly figurative and realistic, Yi uses computer technology to compress, elongate or distort the original images of his subjects, creating visually striking shapes and forms. These intriguing sculptures seem to exist somewhere between real life and an imaginary world of illusion. The viewer is invited by the artist to re-examine the ever-changing relationship between space, dimensions and perspective. In so doing, Yi creates a distinctive artistic language of his own and excels in opening up a new landscape for sculpture.

Exhibition Highlights
Taking centre-stage in this exhibition are two excellent pieces from Yi’s latest Movies series. In Leon and Matilda, Yi reconstructs a scene from Luc Besson’s film Leon in which Matilda learns how to assemble a pistol with Leon; while Trinity depicts a scene from the movie They Call Me Trinity in which the character Trinity arrives at a tavern after travelling through the desert on a travois. The Movies series is in fact a reminiscence and recollection of the artist’s childhood, during which he indulged in many movies that led him into the world of imagination.

Equally noteworthy is A Family – Jangdockdae. Many Korean households preserve fermented sauces in traditional jars called Jangdock which are often handed down from one generation to the next. The Jangdockdae, or jar stand, is a place where many different sizes of jars are gathered together; it symbolizes the solidarity of a family. In the present work, by using Jangdock as the medium, Yi portrays six family members of three generations – Grandpa & Grandma, Father & Mother, Son & Daughter. It creates a heartwarming and affectionate scene, and expresses the artist’s love towards his family.

Another captivating work on view is The Bus Stop series, which was critically acclaimed and won Yi recognition as a professional artist. Created between 2002 and 2005, it is composed of a diverse array of figures – including the artist’s friends, passers-by, elderly men and a tramp – whose individual behavior, facial expressions and body language come alive before the viewer’s eyes. Yi’s attention to detail and delicate sculpting technique are also revealed. Of note, this outstanding work was displayed beside a real bus stop on the sidewalk in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in the Kwanghamoon district of Seoul in October 2005, creating a virtual scene that interacted with the real people on the street.

Further highlights include A Windy Day, in which an invisible but strong wind blows on the postbox and a girl; I Don't Want To Study Today, a humorous piece portraying a girl who is not in the mood for studying (illustrated left); and Becoming a Book which depicts a boy who has his head buried in a book.

Yi Hwan Kwon
Born in 1974, Yi Hwan Kwon graduated from Kyongwon University, Seongnam with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in environmental sculpture in 2004. After placing in the Korea Conceptual Sculpture Prizes in 1999, he participated in the Busan Biennale at the Eulsookdo Park in Busan City in 2004. He participated in the several group exhibitions in 2005 at the Seoul Municipal Art Center, the Sejong Culture Center and the Seoul Arts Center. In 2007, he held solo exhibitions at the Posco Arts Center and Anders Galerie in Dusseldorf, Germany and in 2008, in the forecourt of the Chongdong Theatre, Seoul.

Seoul Auction | Yi Hwan Kwon | Contemporary Korean Artist |

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