Kukje Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Chung Chang-Sup, one of Korea’s most celebrated Dansaekhwa masters. As the first show in 2016 to focus on a Korean artist, Kukje presents a comprehensive overview of Chung’s practice and his lifelong attempt to explore the essence of Korean aesthetics. On view in both K1 and K2, the exhibition showcases thirty works that span his entire artistic practice, and offers the audience a rare opportunity to glimpse Chung’s philosophy that sought to unify the materiality of hanji with the artist’s process, or what he termed the “unity between the thing and the self.”
Chung made his debut in 1953 when he won the special prize for his work Sunset at the second Korean National Art Exhibition (Kukjeon). At this time, his work represented dramatic gestures by using thick matière and bold colors. By the late 1960s, in his Circle series, the artist had begun to apply simple geometry to symbolize circulation and archetypal themes of balance and spirituality in pursuit of visualizing the sensibility and consciousness of Korean culture. Subsequently, Chung began in the 1970s to work on his Return series that utilized the spontaneous expressions of hanji soaked in ink. In this way, the artist further explored how to integrate Korean aesthetics and identity by engaging hanji while making a formative transition from figurative painting to the painting based on materiality.
In the early 1980s, Chung began to use tak as the basis of his practice reflecting his interest in its raw materiality. During this period, Chung first soaked tak in water and kneaded it into a thick paste so that the process naturally determines the right brightness and color of the paste. Then the artist applied the malleable material on canvas, spreading and sculpting it onto the support using his hands. As a result of this careful process, the Tak series combines the materiality of the paper with the artist’s own distinctive performance, allowing for an emphasis on corporeality. Simultaneously, this technique creates the direction of the paper fibers and the delicate and subtle wrinkles that are formed as they dry out, which thus reveals their unique rhythm and physicality. Whereas the subtle tones present the innate yellow color of the paper pulp itself in the Tak series, the artist’s contemplation is manifested in a darker palette including black, indigo blue, and brown in the Meditation series started in the 1990s. Composed of this expressive but limited spectrum of colors within the rigid square format and its use of tak as a sculptural material, the Meditation series illustrates what the artist characterized as “paintings that hanji paints by itself.” These works in this exhibition highlight Chungs’s ability to balance process and materiality with formal rigor, embodying the profound dedication of a sixty-year artistic journey.
Born in 1927 in Cheongju in the North Chungcheong Province of South Korea, Chung Chang-Sup graduated from the Department of Painting, College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University in 1951. He was a professor from 1961 until 1993, and was granted the title of honorary professor upon retirement. Chung had major solo exhibitions at Duson Gallery, Seoul (1984), Tokyo Gallery (1994), and a major retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon (2010). He also participated in several group exhibitions including the 2nd Paris Youth Biennale (1961), São Paulo Art Biennial (1965), Working with Nature: Traditional Thought in Contemporary Art from Korea at Tate Liverpool (1992), Dansaekhwa, an official collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), and the 12th Sharjah Biennial (2015). Chung received numerous awards including the 13th Joong Ang Cultural Grand Prize (1987) and the Order of Korean National Art Merit (1993). His works are in major collections including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon; Seoul Museum of Art; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art; M+ Museum for Visual Culture, Hong Kong; and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The artist died in 2011.