press release

Blum & Poe announces From All Sides: Tansaekhwa on Abstraction, a large-scale survey of Korean monochromatic painting from the 1960s to the 1980s. Consisting of approximately forty seminal paintings, the show is the first major overview of Tansaekhwa in North America, focusing on the group's five core figures: Ha Chonghyun, Kwon Young-woo, Lee Ufan, Park Seobo, and Yun Hyongkeun. Joan Kee, Assistant Professor of History of Art at the University of Michigan and the leading authority on Tansaekhwa, will curate the exhibition. Her book Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) was one of four finalists for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, which honors a distinguished book in art history by the College Art Association.

From the mid-1960s and especially during the 1970s, Tansaekhwa artists variously pushed paint, soaked canvas, dragged pencils, ripped paper, and otherwise manipulated materials in ways that productively troubled the distinctions separating ink painting from oil, painting from sculpture, and object from viewer. Mostly rendered in white, cream, black, brown, and other neutral hues, Tansaekhwa works invited and deflected the gaze of the viewer in ways that enabled audiences to affirm their own sense of presence, an effect with significant implications against the backdrop of authoritarian South Korea. As the first Korean artistic movement to be successfully promoted internationally, Tansaekhwa also affected viewers in Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, and Paris who saw in its most representative examples the possibility of imagining what a distinct contemporary Asian art might look like, thus setting off a pattern of recognition that anticipated what is described as contemporary art's "global turn." The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial catalogue with over one hundred images, an essay by the curator featuring previously unpublished archival sources, narrative artist biographies, and twelve newly translated artist texts.