A Contemporary Look at Asian Art

South Korean artist Park Chan-kyong brings new perspectives to the National Museum of Asian Art this fall with the opening of Park Chan-kyong: Gathering, the inaugural exhibition in the museum’s just-opened modern and contemporary galleries.

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A video by South Korean artist Park Chan-kyong takes the form of a landscape scroll painting. Park Chan-kyong, Citizen’s Forest, 2016. Courtesy Art Sonje Center, Kukje Gallery © Park Chan-kyong

The exhibition features a range of works showcasing Park’s inventive use of photography to explore the ideas of tradition and history in contemporary society. A multichannel video, Citizen’s Forest, takes the form of a monumental landscape scroll painting and draws on poetry, painting and folk culture to reflect on tragedies in South Korea’s history.

In another work, a series of still and moving image portraits titled Child Soldier reimagines the presence of a lonely North Korean soldier.

The new galleries—the first dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art in the museum’s 100-year history—build on the museum’s established practice of exhibiting and collecting late-20th and 21st-century Asian art.

Over the last 25 years, the National Museum of Asian Art has presented the work of nearly 100 modern and contemporary artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Fiona Tan and Ahmed Mater. Park Chan-kyong: Gathering will launch the museum’s next chapter and engage visitors in the myriad formats and media employed by artists to examine Asian art and society.

Park Chan-kyong, Citizen’s Forest, 2016. Courtesy Art Sonje Center, Kukje Gallery © Park Chan-kyong

“The galleries give us an opportunity to continue bringing alternative perspectives to the public on a more regular basis—of countries, cultures and histories that have long been part of our collections and areas of expertise,” said Carol Huh, associate curator of contemporary Asian art. “This is a space where visitors can be immersed in a concept or single artist’s practice.”

“We are dedicated to engaging new audiences with Asian arts, cultures and societies and using our platform to address present-day issues,” said museum director Chase F. Robinson. “The rich dialogue and learning engendered by contemporary exhibitions like Park Chan-kyong’s enable us to reach these goals.”

Park Chan-kyong: Gathering will be on view at the National Museum of Asian Art through Oct. 13, 2024. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Korean Cultural Center, Washington, D.C.

The second exhibition planned for the modern and contemporary galleries, opening in late 2024, will feature Bangladeshi artist Munem Wasif.

Published Fall 2023 in IMPACT Vol. 9. No 3

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