Korean Abstract Art: Kim Whanki and Dansaekhwa: Powerlong Museum, Shanghai

8 November 2018 - 2 March 2019

Curator: Wang Chunjie
Participating artists: Kim Whanki, Kwon Young-Woo, Chung Chang-Sup, Park Seo-Bo, Chung Sang-Hwa, Ha Chong-Hyun, Lee Ufan
"Shanghai’s Powerlong Museum is pleased to announce Korean Abstract Art: Kim Whanki and Dansaekhwa, the first comprehensive exhibition of Korean abstract art to be held in China, on view from November 8, 2018 to March 2, 2019. The exhibition features seminal works by the 20th century master of Korean abstract painting Kim Whanki (1913–1974), along with leading figures of Dansaekhwa including Kwon Young-Woo (1926–2013), Chung Chang-Sup (1927–2011), Park Seo-Bo (b. 1931), Chung Sang-Hwa (b. 1932), Ha Chong-Hyun (b. 1935), and Lee Ufan (b. 1936). The exhibition provides a historical overview of Dansaekhwa, bringing together approximately eighty pieces from the 1970s to the present and introducing a full chronology of its evolution.
Korean Abstract Art: Kim Whanki and Dansaekhwa is a rare opportunity to comprehensively survey the influential movement and its historical context. Dansaekhwa is a uniquely Korean art movement widely celebrated as one of the most compelling chapters within the history of postwar art in East Asia along with the discrete movements originating in other parts of the region, including realist art in China and the Gutai group and Mono-ha in Japan. The exhibition at the Powerlong Museum follows two previous installments, Dansaekhwa, an official Collateral Event in the 56th Venice Bienniale in 2015 and When Process Becomes Form: Dansaekhwa and Korean Abstraction, held in collaboration with the Belgium-based Boghossian Foundation in 2016. This third exhibition establishes a platform for continued dialogue on the aesthetic impact and ongoing importance of Dansaekhwa and is noteworthy for being held in China where regional themes and related art histories can be directly engaged.
This exhibition features representative works by the widely regarded pioneer of Korean abstraction Kim Whanki, along with those by Dansaekhwa artists. Underlying their embrace of abstraction was the desire to create a distinct Asian modernism in response to western cultural influence. This framing was founded on the attempt to discover the junction between the abstract vocabularies of the west and the traditional aesthetics and philosophies of the east, whilst mirroring the zeitgeist of the 20th century Korean society. The Dansaekhwa artists constructed their conceptual framework of meditation and aesthetic philosophy, providing a robust synthesis of process based on mark-making and meditation that is heralded today as Korean abstraction, which is presented as the overarching theme of the exhibition.

Wang Chunjie, the curator of the exhibition, has written a comprehensive overview of the significance of Dansaekhwa in the context of Korean art history and culture in the introductory text of the exhibition catalogue. The text highlights that “Dansaekhwa provides a reinterpretation of the deeply engrained spiritual values of Korean culture and western abstract art, and has already created a profound legacy within the Korean art historical context through decades of development and experimentation.”"