Ha Chong-Hyun (b. 1935), a leading member of the Dansaekhwa group, began his Conjunction series in 1970s post-war Korea and has dedicated his practice to this series ever since. Conjunction refers to the physical connection between the two most important elements of his practice, his methods and his materials, and how the two are intertwined, or ‘conjoined.’ The burlap he began to substitute in place of the more traditional canvas after the Korean War allows him to approach each painting from the reverse, pushing thick paint through the loose weave. The oil paint then emerges from the front, creating a texture that has become entirely unique to Ha’s practice. Though he has maintained these practical methods for decades, Ha continues to experiment in his works, incorporating new colors and abstract patterns.
Ha Chong-Hyun has lived and worked in Seoul since graduating from Hongik University, in 1959. Awarded an honorary doctorate degree, he served as the Dean of the Fine Arts College from 1990 to 1994. From 2001 to 2006, Ha was the Director of the Seoul Museum of Art. Ha's undeniable importance as a central figure for Modern Korean Art has place him in the permanent collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Art Institute of Chicago, M+ in Hong Kong, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in Hiroshima, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea.
Tina Kim sits down with Ha Chong-Hyun (b. 1935), a central figure of the Dansaekhwa (Korean monochrome) movement, to revisit his early memories from art school, discusses his most recent art practice, and the future of Korean art. Video by Hyunjung Rhee