부산미술의 어제와 오늘 BUSAN MUSEUM OF ART
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Ongoing exhibition

YOO YOUNGKUK, 100th ANNIVERSARY OF KOREAN MODERN MASTER
YOO YOUNGKUK, 100th ANNIVERSARY OF KOREAN MODERN MASTER
  • Period 2017-03-29~2017-06-25
  • Work Type Internal
  • Artworks Count about 160
  • Place 2F exhibition hall
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  • Publication
Content
YOO YOUNGKUK, 100th ANNIVERSARY OF KOREAN MODERN MASTER
Artist
YOO YOUNGKUK
Intentions
In Yoo’s abstract works, basic visual elements-dots, lines, planes, forms, and colors-emerge as the protagonists. Often in tension or competition with one another, these elements maintain a certain sense of balance, which ultimately amplifies their potent innate energy. Although his works are reminiscent of the deep water, rugged mountains, clear valleys, and red sun o f his hometown Uljin, he makes no attempt to depict these aspects of nature realistically. Nonetheless, the power of the abstract aesthetics themselves induces the viewer to approach the essence of nature in a more direct way. This exhibition was organized to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yoo Youngkuk. Looking at his modern works, it is almost impossible to believe that he was born a full century ago. As an artist, Yoo had the rare gift of combining an extraordinary aesthetic insight with a firm sense of practicality. He is not a legendary artist who enjoys great popularity among the Korean public. Somehow, during even the most turbulent times of the twentieth century, he alone demonstrated an uncanny-almost surreal-ability to avoid the worst of trauma and adhere to his solitary and high-minded life as an artist. We hope that this exhibition will help to renew people’s appreciation of Yoo Youngkuk, the consummate Korean modern artist who deserves our remembrance and love.
Content
1916 – 1643 TOKYO, MODERN
He studied and worked directly with the most influential leaders of Japanese abstract art, such as Murai Masanari and Hasegawa Saburo. Most of the works that Yoo Youngkuk created in Japan are “relief” works, consisting of simplified geometric forms made by cutting, connecting, and pasting veneer plates. The objects are purposely uncolored, to highlight the natural grain of the wood or the sleek gloss of the processed surface.

1943-1959 TOWARD ABSTRACTION
Despite the desperate situation in Korea, Yoo seized every opportunity to continue his work as an artist, creating new works and leading many different avant-garde art groups, such as New Realism(1948), Modern Art Association(1957), and Contemporary Art Exhibition(1958). His works from this period represent the gradual abstraction of ordinary natural elements (e.g, mountains, valleys, sunsets), thus marking a return to the fundamental principles of “painting”. He simplified the natural forms and sought an exquisite balance of colors, ultimately seeking to maximize the surface texture.

1960 – 1964 ENCOUNTER WITH SUBLIME NATURE
Yoo’s works from this period resonate with power and confidence. Unfolding massive landscape, the larde canvasses vivid natural scenes of all seasons, seen from a bird’s eye view. In particular, the new works that he produced for his 1964 solo exhibition embody his intense spirit and focus, conveying the illusion that the viewer is engulfed in a deep forest. Amazingly, these overwhelming works were produced in his relatively small studio in Yaksu-dong, which was just 23㎡. Within this confined space, Yoo confronted the awesome power of nature and transferred the essence of that sublime energy onto the canvas.

1965-1970 AESTHETIC EXPERIMENTATIONS
he did indeed persist in his diverse aesthetic experimentations until he turned 60 in the mid-1970s. In these works, irregular forms gradually advance into geometric shapes. The primary colors (ywllow, red and blue) are prevalent, but Yoo also plays with different variations of purple and green. Even within a group of works dominated by the color red, there are subtle differences in the shades: slightly brighter red, thick red, murky red, deep red. The interaction of these shades simultaneously yields a tangible tension and a superb balance. As such, these sumptuous works approach the supreme level of beauty that painting may achieve.

1970s-1990s WORKING WITH NATURE
he continually produced serene and beautiful paintings, representing his desire for a softer approach and a “return to a nature.” His final works convey the simple lyricism of the natural world that surrounds us: mountains and trees, lakes and seas, horizons of land and water, and above all, reflections of the sun and moon. All of these images reflect Yoo’s aspirations for a perfect equilibrium with the supreme peace and harmony of nature. In his later years, Woo repeatedly returned from death’s door to his studio, and th resulting paintings radiate with the warm consolation of life.
Artworks Count
about 160
Sponsor
Busan Museum of Art, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, KOREA
Place
2F exhibition hall
Period
2017-03-29~2017-06-25
Artist
In the 1930s, Yoo Youngkuk (1916-2002) left the remote hinterlands of Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, where he had been born and raised, and went to study art in Tokyo, one of the world’s most modern cities. He returned to Korea in 1943, amidst the tumult of the Pacific War. Through th ensuing years of Korea’s independence (1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953), he sustained himself by working as a fisherman or by brewing and selling his own liquor. After 1955, he fully resumed his art activities, becoming a leader of many early avant-garde art groups in Korea (e.g., New Realism, Modern Art Association, Contemporary Artists, and New Figures) and establishing himself as one of the true pioneers of Korean contemporary art, In 1964, however, he announced the end of his association with art groups and held his first solo exhibition. From then until his death in 2002, he was devoted solely to working alone in his studio, day in and day out, such that he left about 400 magnificent oil paintings.
Work Introduction