5 Contemporary Korean Creators

Meet five artists from Korea and explore the modern works they create

By Google Arts & Culture

With the Fubon Art Foundation, the Seoul Design Foundation, and more

Series of Vulnerable Arrangements—Voice and Wind (2009) by Haegue YangSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation

Korean culture has created an abundant amount of art throughout history, and that innovative spirit continues today. Scroll to meet five modern makers from the East Asian region.

Breathing Flower (2013) by Jeong-Hwa CHOIFubon Art Foundation

1. Choi Jeong-hwa

Choi Jeong-Hwa is an artist and designer whose unique work features vibrant colors and repurposed items. His pieces appear in public spaces, adding both beauty and provocative commentary to the urban landscape.

Like much of his work, this inflatable lotus, made by Choi in 2013, juxtaposes the natural and synthetic worlds.

Portrait of Designer JinTeOk by JIN Te OkSeoul Design Foundation

2. Jin Teok

Fashion designer Jin Teok has been a leading figure in the world of Korean clothing since the 1960s. Her fashion house, JINTEOK, is known for its mixture of traditional and modern styles.

2017FW Seoul Fashion Week JINTEOK show sketch (2017) by Seoul Design FoundationSeoul Design Foundation

This photo from Seoul Fashion Week 2017 features some of the spectacular runway looks from the JINTEOK label. The designer celebrated 50 years in the fashion industry with an exhibition, and you can get an up-close look at the anthology in the video below.

2016SS Seoul Fashion Week JINTEOK Anthology (2016-10)Seoul Design Foundation

Self-Portrait (1999) by Kang, Hyung KooKorean Art Museum Association

3. Hyung Koo Kang

Hyung Koo Kang is known for his incredible, evocative portraits. His pieces may look like photos, but in actuality, they're photorealistic oil paintings. Would you have guessed?

It’s only under close examination that this 1999 self-portrait is distinguishable from a photograph. Hyung is probably best known for his meticulous portraits of celebrities, from artists to historical icons.

Warhol in Astonishment (2010) by Kang, Hyung KooKorean Art Museum Association

Hyung painted this portrait in 2010. Do you recognize the subject?

Totem Robot – Askew (2010) by Haegue YangUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

4. Haegue Yang

Haegue Yang is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in Seoul in 1971, but now splits her time between Seoul and Berlin. Her sculptures and installations have appeared all over the world, often recontextualizing existing objects. 

Much of Yang’s work incorporates venetian blinds or other everyday items, but the elaborate arrangements tell a story beyond that of the objects themselves. This 2010 piece is called ‘Totem Robot – Askew.’

Do you see a collection of individual things or one complete sculpture? What narrative do you think this piece conveys?

Untitled (2014) by Madvictor_XEVAGyeonggi Museum of Modern Art

5. XEVA

XEVA is the artistic alias of Yoo Seung-Baik, a Seoul-born artist who specializes in graffiti. His work ranges from realistic to surrealistic, with a plethora of street art and commissioned murals under his belt.

We see XEVA at work on a piece here, but many of his murals appear on buildings or other uneven surfaces, giving the artist room to explore space in multiple dimensions. See the finished product below!

Untitled (2014) by Madvictor_XEVAGyeonggi Museum of Modern Art

Would you have guessed that this fabulous portrait was created with spray paint?

The Nine-Bend Stream of Byeokgye (2011) by Min Jeong-giGyeonggi Museum of Modern Art

For even more Korean artists and artisans from past and present, explore Gyeonggi 1000 Years of Art & History.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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