Published - Coming out of the Shadows, Korean Art

Chan-Hyo Bae's "Existing in Costume Prince Frog" 
With Charles Saatchi planning a major exhibition of Korean contemporary art in London for next year, the international art world is about to discover what Asian collectors already know: Korean art is hot!

Rim Lee's The Mess of Emtion, no 11 (Painting)

with sculptor Gwon Osang
Art purchases by Saatchi tend to make be closely followed in the art world. The voracious collector of contemporary art famously championed the new generation of Young British Artists in the 1900s, launching the careers of Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin, amongst others, and over the years he has had the uncanny knack of picking up relatively unknown artists before they became famous, though nowadays this can be self-fulfilling as the mere mention of his name associated with a young artist can send price soaring. Through the Saatchi Gallery, re-opened in 2008, he has started championing the works of Asian artists, putting on shows like The Revolution Continues: New Art from China, and The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today. Now, the collector with a keen-eye for the next big thing is planning a major exhibition of Korean contemporary art for the summer of 2012.

This will not be the first time Korean art work are shown within the wall of the Saatchi Gallery, which has previously open its door to show organize by other collectors - Korean Eye: Moon Generation in 2009 and Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary in 2010 were both organized by art collectors David and Serenella Ciclitira – but this will be the first time a Korean art show is directly organized by the Saatchi Gallery with Charles Saatchi himself involved in the art work selection, notes Nigel Hurst, CEO of the Saatchi Gallery. “When the first Korean Eye was shown at the gallery in 2009, we weren’t really familiar with Korean works, but we were really surprised by the strength of the works,” Hurst explains, adding the quality of the works coming out of Korea was an eye opener.

Yee Soo Kyung

There is a lot of visually arresting, powerful works,” Hurst adds, noting that compared with contemporary British art, Korean art incorporates more technology. “There is also an emphasis on the ordinary and mundane, yet, there is also an element of fantasy,” Hurst adds.

The planned 2012 exhibition will included three or four works from about 25-30 artists. “It will depend on the scale of the works, but we’ll show about 100-150 pieces,” Hurst says, adding the choice will be made based on “what we think are the most interesting artists.”

Korean artists have largely remained under the radar of international collectors, overshadowed by the fandom created around several Chinese contemporary artists, yet the Korean contemporary art scene is rich and vibrant, with artists exploring a wide range of issues, from everyday life to pop culture and virtual reality, through a variety of innovative media. Read the whole story with details on my favorite korean artist in Prestige Singapore this June.