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SUPER/NATURAL: Christie's Private Sales introduces new exhibition category
Choe U-Ram (b. 1970) Echo Navigo, Scientific name: (Anmorome Istiophorus platyperus Uram) Executed in 2004. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s Private Sales announced SUPER/NATURAL, the first private sale exhibition of contemporary art from Korea, from 12-27 September 2013 in New York. SUPER/NATURAL features five artists with a sub-theme focus of “nature” which highlights the rigorous pursuit of innovation in concept and expression that has established Korea as one of the most exciting contemporary art scenes in Asia today. The exhibition features Ahn Doo-Jin, Choe U-Ram, Kong Sung-Hun, Moon Beom, and Rhee Ki-Bong, who represent both mid-career and younger emerging artists, and capture the range of expression happening among Korean artists.

By focusing on nature as a theme, SUPER/NATURAL highlights innovations that are at once subtle and profound; traditional Korean landscape painting is reimagined in new media, the timeless and temporal aspects of ink paintings are reworked as conceptual touch stones, and the natural order is scientifically investigated and then upended to reveal a contrary alternate universe. From Choe U-Ram’s fictive evolutionary creatures, Ahn Doo-Jin’s mathematically-conceived surrealist fantasias, Moon Beom’s lyrical “possible worlds”, to the timeless, chthonic seascapes of Kong Sung-Hun, and Rhee Ki-Bong’s haunting, misty landscapes, these artists draw from old traditions while taking them radically forward in unexpected, exhilarating and provocative ways.

Ingrid Dudek, International Senior Specialist of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art, comments: “One abiding aspect in Korean art is a thorough and meticulous investigation into form and material, which lends itself to a questioning of the conventional boundaries of old genres. Throughout, cultural traditions are honored, revisited, and redefined in new modern and contemporary forms, underscoring traditional philosophies and aesthetics, rapidly redefining itself in the current era.”

Ahn Doo-Jin (b. 1975)
Equal parts artist, mathematician, philosopher, and jester, the sacred meets the comic as artist Ahn Doo-Jin subverts tradition while advancing it with his distinct iconography, palette and compositions. Influenced by the writings of Arthur C. Danto, one of the most influential art philosophers in the last half century, Ahn addresses Danto’s examination of the interconnectivity and universality of aesthetic production by deconstructing our assumptions surrounding representation and visual communication. Ahn created his own visual language based on his theoretical hypothesis that the visual world is composed of a combination of minimum units, which he dubbed as imaquarks (a portmanteau of the word “image” and quark”). His paintings are the vivid result of his tireless experiments with his visual language. Ahn creates oppositional spaces and tensions in his paintings, making them visually provocative and confounding, familiar and yet unsettling, as they rewrite conventional approaches to color choice, composition, and form.

Choe U-Ram (b. 1970)
Seoul-based artist Choe U-Ram draws upon nature, robotics, and science fiction to create intricate kinetic sculptures that invite consideration of our past, present and future. Choe’s cybernetic creatures each come complete with detailed information regarding genus and species, mating habits and dominant characteristics, including titles that evoke a scientific tradition, and all of which are inventions of the artist. Composed of finely polished metal, motors, and circuitry, the artist’s kinetic life forms reflect upon alternate worlds of advanced artificial life while drawing upon contemporary advances in robotics, computer science, and engineering.

Moon Beom (b. 1955)
Arguably one of the most renowned artists to emerge during the lauded Korean Monochrome movement of the 1970s-80s, Moon Beom is also among the most technically adept at fusing traditional Korean aesthetics with Western abstraction, breaking conventions in eliminating representation and treating the canvas as infinite sometimes sculptural space. Drawing upon traditional landscape forms, Moon’s advanced technical process combines the craftsmanship and soul of Korean painting with experimental materials to create mesmerizing imaginary landscapes in perpetual contortions of balance and harmony. Moon prepares his canvases with a flat acrylic background, then applies oil stick with quick swirls and sharp lines, a gesture that distills his philosophies of art, time, and life into a tangible physical mark, albeit one that transforms into sublime landscapes and ethereal natural forms through repetition.

Kong Sung-Hun (b. 1965)
Kong Sung-Hun’s tremendous photorealistic paintings have solidly established him as one of Korea’s breakout contemporary artists. His works are massive philosophical examinations of nature, both as idea and object, and tap into the Korean national consciousness by pondering tradition in the face of rapid change. The subjects of Kong’s work, whether urban landscapes or set in nature, are grounded in reality. His depictions in photorealistic detail highlight their existence and seemingly accentuate materiality. However, Kong conflates his subjects with elements of the unreal that jar the viewer into a different perspective. Mortality is a central tenet in Kong’s landscapes. Kong’s seascapes are terrifying depictions of nature as chaos, unrelenting, unresponsive, and indiscriminate.

Rhee Ki-Bong (b. 1957)
The haunting, elegiac works of Rhee Ki-Bong offer impressions of time and space; his misty, evocative imagery give the works a memorial quality, at once somber and nostalgic. His famous landscapes—ghostly trees shrouded in fog and mist—are results of an intensive process employing painting, sculpture and installation, blending traditional Korean landscape concepts with contemporary materials. His unique technique of layering acrylic on canvas, and then delicately overlaying the canvas with plexiglass, creates a dramatic and very physical real sensation of depth. Rhee then paints additional layers on the plexiglass before applying a final layer of acrylic resin on the surface. The effect creates an emotional and temporal distance.

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