Quac Insik (1919-1988) was an artist truly ahead of his time and an innovative artist living in Postwar Japan. He delved into the concept of materiality and produced pioneering works that experimented with objects such as glass, brass and paper far in advance of related discussions in Japan prior to the development of Mono-ha and arte povera in the West. Quac’s work was a major influence on the Mono-ha movement and he is well known to be an artistic mentor to Lee Ufan.
Memories of his childhood in Korea and the materials from that time heavily influenced Quac’s work and his focus on the natural versus the man-made. The idea of the material and matter and the essence inherent within led the artist to explore objects such as glass, stone, brass, and paper. In many works, the artist broke glass and glued them together again or cut brass plates only to sew them together or drilled holes in stones and canvases. Quac also focused on simple forms and shapes, such as dots and circles, that inhabit the canvas in clusters with perceived depth.
Although Quac continuously created innovative works and was receptive to new trends and methods of paintings, he did not receive the acknowledgement he deserved within the Japanese society perhaps due to his identity as an ethnic Korean. However, Quac spent the majority of his life in Japan due to the fact he believed it the only place that he could practice at the forefront of the avant garde.
Quac was born in Daegu before moving to Japan in 1937. He graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1941. During his early career, he showed at many international venues such as Tokyo International Biennale in 1965, São Paulo Biennial in 1969, and Sydney International Biennial in 1976. His first solo show in Korea was held at Gallery Hyundai in 1982. He has two major retrospectives in Korea at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in 1985 and most recently in June 2019 to celebrate the centennial of his birth.