Africa Guest of Honor at Art Paris Art Fair

Guillaume Piens explains the purpose of the fair: “Displaying the works that have never been shown in Paris.” After focusing on South Korea in 2016, this year the fair offers an eclectic selection of 21 galleries, featuring African artists. Among them, 14 galleries are based in Africa and 7 are based in Europe, presenting a group of artists from both North and Sub-Saharan Africa as diasporas. The focus on Africa is placed in a rich array of events, including the multi-disciplinary “100% Afrique Festival” at La Villette, “L’Afrique des Routes” at the Musée du Quai Branly and the upcoming Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibition, which will present the collection of Jean Pigozzi, included nearly 10,000 works discovered largely by André Magnin, who is also present at the show. While there is a new trend turning to the West and North America in the Western art market, it is important to remember that it took years before it is possible. London’s niche art fair 1:54 makes France seem behind in the race of art fairs; however, the different variety of African galleries offered in Art Paris Art Fair allow us to catch up the race. Marie-Ann Yemsi, who piloted the African focus of the fair is delighted by her enthusiasm, while tempering it. “Rather than talking about fashion, I think it’s more about catching up. We were lagging behind compared to other European countries, like Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom … not to mention the United States.” Guillaume Piens and Marie-Ann Yemsi preferred to mix the African galleries with the other participants at the fair, rather than segregate the galleries based on their locations. The Best-known Signatures Among the 21 galleries that feature African artists, some have chosen to showcase the most renowned artists. For an example, André Magnin offers visitors the...

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Questioning modernity through tradition: the Dansaekhwa movement in Art Paris Art Fair

In Gallery Shilla’s exhibit at the Art Paris Art Fair, one can contemplate the large meditative works of Dansaekhwa artist Lee Kang-So. In pieces such as his Emptiness series, a white canvas is marked with a few sparse brushstrokes. But what is Dansaekhwa? It seems to be a style we might associate with the Western aesthetic movements of minimalism or abstract expressionism. This is a trap that we cannot help but fall into when attempting a purely formal description of this movement, comparing it to categories imported from another era and another civilization. Lee Kwang Ho, director of Daegu-based Shilla Gallery, which represents Lee Kang-So, emphasizes that this postmodern Korean art movement is distinct from international points of reference, as it is based on mental discipline. This Korean art movement of abstract monochrome painting initiated in the mid-1970s by artists such as Lee Ufan, Youn Myeung-Ro and Park Seo-bo, in a post-war context (coinciding with the separation of North and South Korea) where abstract artists began to advocate for de-modernization and de-westernization, and an inclination towards tradition. Tradition was seen a refuge against the destructive impact of modernity. Dansaekhwa is non-aligned, a movement that follows a unique path. It ruptures with American minimalism, which is seen as too formalist and detached from the world, as well as European abstraction, which is considered too lyrical. It is not iconoclastic, nor does it adopt an avant-garde attitude, but instead it tends to work with raw or traditional materials. For example, mulberry-based Hanji paper, commonly used in Korean architecture where it replaces glass panes in lodgings, is found in many Dansaekhwa artworks. Dansaekhwa artists demonstrate introspection with the reiteration of a minimal gesture, removed of lyricism and defying the authority of the image as well as the artist’s dominant perspective, as found in Western...

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Exploring South Korea at Art Paris Art Fair

Following last year’s focus on Singapore artists and galleries, the Art Paris Art Fair 2016 shines the spotlight on another growing player in the global market for contemporary art: South Korea. For this year’s edition, the fair invited guest curator Sang-A Chun to supervise the selection. 77 Korean artists are presented from 8 Korean galleries and 26 Western galleries. The fair also features talks, public art installations as well as a series of performances. The programme of performances is entitled Rituals and is specifically produced for Art Paris Art Fair 2016. The performances explore, from a Korean perspective, the relationship between artistic creation and the idea of the ritual. It features work by contemporary Korean artists Yeesookyung and Young In Houng. To celebrate 130 years of diplomatic friendship between France and Korea, the Korean Cultural Centre features an exhibition of the painter Oh Se-Yeol and is hosting a talk entitled “Contemporary Korean art: exploring the past and shed light on the present” moderated by Art Paris Art Fair Korea Guest of Honour Curator Sang-A Chun. The artwork featured in the fair range from the 1960s to today’s thriving contemporary art. The artists from the earlier generation, such an Ung-No Lee (galerie Thessa Herold, Galerie Patrice Trigano) work at the crossroads between Eastern and Western traditions, while the work of the younger generation of artists such as Lee Bae (Galerie RX), Moon Beom (Gallery Simon), has developed its own language under the influence of Western informalism, abstract expressionism and minimalism. Bae Ju-hyun, manager of Seoul-based Gana Art gallery, remarks on this interlink between Eastern and Western art practices: “The basis of Korean abstract art is the underlying Asian philosophy, even if it is expressed through use of Western mediums”. The gallery presents work by Park Yung Nam, particular his large...

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