Gallery Hyundai is pleased to present Paintings of the 1960s – A Piercing Gaze, a solo exhibition of Kwak Duck-Jun, a Kyoto based Japanese Korean artist. This exhibition will be the largest show since his special exhibition at the National Museum of Art, Osaka in 2014, and his second solo exhibition held at Gallery Hyundai after 2015. This exhibition draws together Kwak’s earlier works from the time he earnestly began his career as an artist. Thirty works have been discreetly chosen among the drawings and paintings Kwak created between 1964 and 1969. The exhibition is especially meaningful as these works will be introduced for the first time in Korea.
Born in Kyoto in 1937, Kwak was stripped of his Japanese nationality and left with an immigrant status as a consequence of the San Francisco Peace Treaty after the Second World War. Moreover, he fought against tuberculosis for three years. Art, for Kwak, is a trace of struggle and a representation of his dark youth. Kwak’s signature style/technique features a thick rugged layer of plaster and shell powder on top of wood panel, which he colors, coats with wood glue, then scrapes with a nail to produce countless lines. In a tableau done with this unique technique, spontaneous drawings turn into liberated curves and organic forms are created as a result. Sentiments born out of a mixture of Kwak’s physical trauma and innate dilemma permeate his paintings; humorously depicted forms of people exude a sense of desolation, entanglement, and strong vitality at the same time. This exhibition will provide a valuable opportunity to review the earlier works of a senior artist and to reflect on his figurative achievements spanning over half a century.
Kwak Duck-Jun earned an international reputation for challenging the absoluteness of established notions. His art is not limited to one artistic discipline but spans over a wide range from tableau to installation, performance, video, photography, and print, all the while exhibiting various modes and degrees of experiment within each domain. Kwak started to gain recognition in Korea in the 1970s. In 2003, he made his name in Korea through the exhibition Artist of the Year, organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, and received wide acclaim in the art world with his exhibition at the National Museum of Art, Osaka in 2014. His works were also exhibited at prominent institutions such as Yokohama Museum of Art, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, and Busan Museum of Art. The artist’s works are part of prestigious collections including Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul; the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Fukuoka Prefectural Museum of Art; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.