The Daejeon Museum of Art presents the work of Ha Chong-Hyun, the winner of the 17th Lee Donghoon Award. The Lee Donghoon Award was established to commemorate the artistic legacy of Lee in shaping the Daejeon art scene, and it is awarded each year to an artist for their outstanding achievement in the development of Korea’s modern and contemporary art. Ha is one of Korea’s foremost avant-gardists and is internationally acclaimed for his monochromatic paintings. This exhibition is the first major show of Ha’s artwork in Daejeon and a rare chance to discover his latest painting.
The 13 paintings on display were carefully chosen to show the essence of Ha’s artistic practice, which spans over 60 years from the early 1960s to the present. His lifelong exploration into a new visual language was closely interlocked with the contemporary transformation of the Korean art scene. Hence, looking at his work will lead the audience through some major moments and shifts in the history of Korean contemporary art.
Having graduated from Hongik University in 1959, Ha began his abstract experiments, inspired by Art Informel, an important modern art movement in Europe. These experiments laid the foundation for his most famous painting series Conjunction, which began in 1974. For the series, Ha developed a unique method: using a canvas made from coarse burlap, he pushed oil paint through the fabric’s loose weave from the backside of the canvas and then spread the paint across the canvas in the front. When paint seeps through the strands of the weave, the canvas reveals the aesthetic materiality of the medium. Here, the artist adds a minimal gesture to it to finish each painting. Breaking from the fixed idea of painting in front of the canvas, this method implied a new relationship between ‘medium’ and ‘body’ and ultimately opened up a new chapter in the history of Korean abstract painting practice.