중앙데일리

Local curator brings Korean art to Britain

July 25,2009
Lee Dae-hyung
An exhibition called Korean Eye at the Saatchi Gallery in London is drawing a huge amount of attention from British art enthusiasts.

The exhibit, which displays the works of 31 Korean modern artists, was initially scheduled to end on July 5. But due to huge crowds more than 40,000 visitors in two weeks its run was extended to Sept. 13, showing that Korean artists have become highly recognized in one of Europe s major cultural capitals.

And behind it all?

Lee Dae-hyung, the 35-year-old head of the curating company Hzone, who made the exhibition happen, though it took a lot of effort.

I ve been taking a break in Korea lately because I suffered from fatigue right after the exhibition began, he told the JoongAng Ilbo in a recent interview.

Lee has spent the past eight years introducing contemporary Asian artists such as Suh Do-ho, Bae Joon-sung, Debbie Han, Jiang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun and Fang Lijun to art lovers in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Beijing.

He proposed the idea for the Korea Eye exhibition last March.

Eventually, David Ciclitira, president of Parallel Media Group, contacted him, saying he was interested in sponsoring an art project. PMG is a global sports event group that started Korea s largest golf tournament, called the Ballantine s Championship.

Then, Phillips de Pury & Company a major auction firm reserved the third floor of the gallery to make the exhibition possible. Standard Chartered Bank also offered support.

Korean artworks can be exported around the world, Lee said. Korean artists have a well-polished expertise. Their hands, rather than their words, can describe their creative ideas. I wanted to show the potential of modern Korean art, something different from art abroad.

But it wasn t exactly smooth sailing, as some companies that promised to sponsor the exhibition hesitated due to the economic crisis.

Getting Korean artwork displayed in the Saatchi Gallery allows the artists to connect and communicate with mainstream art in London, Lee said. It also presents a grand opportunity for Korean art circles. Therefore, I decided to take a risk despite a possible loss.

He s breathing much easier now. Among the distinguished guests at the opening ceremony on July 2 were Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and David Tang, the founder of Hong Kong s China Club. Lee is also holding an exhibition called Mad for Furniture displaying experimental furniture designs, in Nefspace, which is located in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. In December, he will open another exhibition called Korea Tomorrow, to be held at the Seoul Trade Exhibition and Convention Center in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul.



By Jung Hyung-mo [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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