PKM Gallery is pleased to present a viewing room of works by Yun Hyong-keun, accompanying the exhibition YUN HYONG-KEUN 1989-1999 that is on view from 23 April to 4 July 2020 throughout the premises of PKM and PKM+. Through considerate curation, PKM Gallery aims to fully demonstrate Yun's works produced from 1989 to 1999. These paintings are significant in that they maintain the inherent essence of Yun's art while showing his development in style.
Born in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province in 1928, Yun Hyong-keun lived through one of the most turbulent periods of Korean history; he suffered great misfortune related to Japanese colonial rule, the Korean War, and the post-war dictatorship. For simply standing up for his beliefs and being honest, Yun was incarcerated four times and was once faced with near-certain death. Only after surviving these harrowing incidents did Yun fully commit himself to art in 1973 when he was 45 years old.
The world of my paintings is
an implication of the hardships I have endured.
–Yun Hyong-keun, from a interview filmed by gallerie Jean Brolly Paris, 2002
From the moment Yun dedicated himself to painting, he established his own distinct meditative artistic style. Using a mixture of umber and ultra-marine for most of his oeuvre, Yun allowed his materials to naturally seep into linen, raw canvas, and hanji (Korean mulberry paper). Devoid of any artificiality or superfluity, Yun’s paintings correspond to the traditional Korean scholar’s belief that calligraphy and painting naturally reveal one’s noble literati spirit. In fact, Yun has said that his works are rooted in the calligraphy of Chusa Kim Jeong-hui from the late Joseon period. His paintings, genuine and bold like Yun’s own personality, mirror the unpolished yet elegant qualities of Chusa’s calligraphic work.
The paintings of Yun Hyong-Keun have a character that forces people who see them into silence. It seems that the more you talk about them, the further away the word escapes from his paintings. On the contrary, a strong message is transmitted from them. It is no exaggeration to say that the message is so strong that once you have seen his works, you can not forget it. However, they do not induce people to be talkative, instead they have the effect of spreading words towards the inside of those who see them.
–Yusuke Nakahara, "The Paintings of Yun, Hyong-keun"
from the catalog of three concurrent solo exhibitions
at Suzukawa Gallery, Galerie Humanite, and Gallery Yamaguchi, 1989
The viewing room showcases Yun's works produced from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, which are bolder and more geometric in their forms compared to his early oeuvre that is characterized by the permeating effect of ink painting and the presence of two flanking columns. After his encounter with Donald Judd—the master of Minimal Art—in 1991, Yun attained unwavering confidence in his artistic practice. Created with Yun's intuitive sense of proportion and color reduced to pure black, his distinctive paintings from this period show originality as they succeed Chusa's aesthetics that Yun had continuously admired, while embracing the notion of Western minimalism of simplicity in material and form. At last, Yun was able to consolidate his notion of modernity that transcends the East and West binary.
Many people today say that they are intrigued by Yun Hyong-keun's paintings without knowing the reason. They call it the 'power of art.' If it really is so, it might be because 'art' touches upon universal issues concerning our everyday lives, even when it is seemingly standing at a far distance
"'Kim Inhye, "Yun Hyong-keun: About 'Relationship–
from the accompanying booklet to the exhibition Yun Hyong-keun 1989-1999 at PKM Gallery, 2020
Among numerous exhibitions of Yun Hyong-keun, a major posthumous retrospective was held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul in 2018, which provided a comprehensive understanding of his life and artistic style. The exhibition attracted roughly 100,000 visitors in four months and was extended for two more months. The exhibition traveled to Palazzo Fortuny in Venice in 2019, coinciding with the 58th Venice Biennale, and was introduced as one of the best off-site exhibition during the biennale period.
In the uproar created by the hundreds of exhibitions
that orbit the Biennale planet,
if a visitor is looking for a moment of breath and a moment of silence
he can find them at Palazzo Fortuny,
in the exhibition of Yun Hyong-keun.
– From the review of Yun Hyong-keun. A retrospective by Francesco Bonami
Please enjoy below the VR exhibition, the exhibition booklet, a performance video produced in collaboration with the saxophonist KimOki that were made in addition to the newly launched online viewing room for a better understanding of the exhibition YUN HYONG-KEUN 1989-1999 and Yun's art.