Korean Cultural Center New York presents a special exhibition Whanki in New York with the Whanki Museum and LG OLED

On view May 2nd – June 13th, 2024
Opening Reception: May 2nd, 6 – 8 pm
Gallery and Atrium at the Korean Cultural Center New York

NEW YORK, April 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY), a branch of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, is proud to present a special exhibition “Whanki in New York,” from May 2 to June 13, 2024. This exhibition commemorates the pivotal years of pioneering abstract artist Kim Whanki (1913-1974), who established his artistic legacy during his transformative time in New York. It pays tribute to his profound impact on contemporary art 50 years after his passing.

Whanki in New York is uniquely significant in that it not only showcases 27 original artworks on loan from the Whanki Museum in Seoul but also, for the first time, unveils private collections from New York acquaintances of Kim and his wife. Moreover, LG Electronics presents five digital artworks that reinterpret Kim’s creative universe through cutting-edge technology. These innovative pieces, crafted by emerging media artists using LG OLED screens as their medium, include crucial works from his New York period in the 1970s.

“The KCCNY is excited to collaborate with the Whanki Museum and LG Electronics to bring Kim Whanki’s significant works to New York. Since our founding in 1979, we’ve been committed to promoting Korean culture and art in New York. This exhibition not only celebrates Kim’s critical New York era but also includes rare personal artifacts, contributed by the Korean American community. Our event shines a fresh light on his legacy, fostering cultural connections across generations,” says Michael Cheonsoo Kim, Executive Director of the Korean Cultural Center New York.

Kim Whanki’s Artistic Evolution with Endless Experimentations

Kim’s artistic journey is vividly illustrated by the diverse locales that shaped his development and unique style. Beginning in Tokyo during the 1930s (1933-1937), he immersed himself in an environment rich with academic pursuit and artistic exploration. Returning to Korea, he emerged as a key figure in Seoul’s vibrant art scene from 1937 to 1956, where he formed the ‘Shinsasilpa (New Realism Group)’ with fellow artist Yoo YoungKuk. His artistic narrative continued to unfold in Paris from 1956 to 1959, where he honed a distinctive artistic identity. However, it was his period in New York from 1963 to 1974 that culminated in his mature artistic expressions, epitomized by the iconic “all-over dot paintings.”

This exhibition delves deeply into Kim’s New York era, showcasing not only his artworks but also personal items such as diaries, photographs, and letters that offer a glimpse into his creative process. Specifically focusing on his works on paper—selected by the Whanki Museum as representative of his artistic breadth—the exhibit highlights how, beginning in the early 1960s with gouache depictions of mountains and the moon, his technique evolved. By the late 1960s, he was experimenting with oil paints, creating intricate dot patterns on media as varied as the New York Times and traditional Korean hanji paper. These works underscore his dedication to media experimentation and the meticulous efforts that defined his legacy.

Rencountering Kim Whanki in New York after 50 Years

This retrospective serves as a meaningful reminder of Kim’s status as an undisputed trailblazer of Korean abstract art, reconnecting audiences with his legacy half a century after his final days in New York. During this transformative period, he deliberately distanced himself from traditional authorities and artistic conventions, fully immersing in a milieu brimming with the energy of creativity. His relocation to New York marked a pivotal shift, allowing him to reengage with the fundamentals of his craft and carve out a unique yet universal artistic realm.

In the spirit of Kim’s own reflections, as noted in his diary from July 2, 1968, this exhibition encourages viewers to approach his works with new perspectives: “An artist must always be wary of being trapped by conventional views. One should always approach their work with fresh eyes, as if seeing it for the first time.” KCCNY invites audiences to experience the enduring resonance of his artistic spirit and rediscover his contributions to the world of art, reflecting on the timeless nature of his creations and the ongoing influence they hold.

Whanki in New York is collaborated with the Whanki Museum  |  LG OLED is the Headline Partner for Whanki in New York  |  Lead support for Whanki in New York is provided by Dashing Diva

About the Korean Cultural Center New York

The Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY) is a branch of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea inaugurated in 1979 to establish and promote Korean culture in New York. KCCNY provides diverse cultural and artistic activities including gallery exhibitions, performing arts programs, film festivals, educational workshops, and more, offering a place of experience and learning.

With its new location at 122 E 32nd Street in New York, KCCNY provides a newly expanded platform to operate as a cultural hub in the heart of the city near Manhattan’s Koreatown.

For more information, visit www.koreanculture.org and follow @kccny on Instagram.

SOURCE Korean Cultural Center New York

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