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August 27 – October 16, 2009

The six artists in "Foregrounded" – Young-whan Bae, Sanggil Kim, Chan-kyong Park, Noori Lee, Moon Beom and Kim Jiwon – encompass various genres ranging from drawing, painting, photography, to video and installation in pursuit of their artistic interests, using diverse visual languages and approaches to their media. Their committed engagement with the issues in their work and intelligent combination between themes and media exemplify creative interaction between form and content, intention and presentation.

Often employing abandoned materials as both the physical and conceptual basis for his practice, Young-whan Bae (b. 1969) attains a poetic quality in his work, lending tangible presence to certain sensibilities and aesthetics distinctive to Korea. In Bae's installation Lovesick Weeds and Stranding shown with Time in Heart – a video projection of moving grass onto a window frame – each wooden "flower" and "fish" marked with arbitrary scales alludes to discrepancies between collective societal standards and those of an individual. His work deftly combines different media and techniques to serve as vehicles to convey social and individual perspectives as well as formal aesthetic manifestations.

Chan-kyong Park's (b. 1965) video and PowerPoint presentation Power Passage weaves narratives and imageries intermixing reality and imagination, fiction and nonfiction, film and documentary. Taking the ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project) as an aesthetic symbol of Cold War détente and a failed monument, in reference to the John Sturges sci-fi film Marooned, Park extends the story to underground tunnels in South and North Korea to imagine a passage that would connect the two Koreas beyond time and space. The juxtaposition of political contexts, the sublimity of space, Korea's reality and hopeful anticipation for the future, conjures up yet another possibility of metaphor in art making.

For Sanggil Kim (b. 1974), photography is a means to conduct research and analysis into the multifaceted experience of the social and physical environment of contemporary time and space. Kim deploys technical sophistication and formal rigor in photographic images that alternately defamiliarize the familiar and dramatize – even melodramatize, sometimes to discomfiting effect – the banal. His Mode series is an ongoing architectonic examination of urban constructions and spaces in Seoul and other Asian cities. The off-line series, featuring group portraitures of Internet-based communities, and more recently, composite group portraitures of part-time workers, constitutes an archaeology of illusory systems, networks, and structures.

Moon Beom, Kim Jiwon and Noori Lee delve into the nature of the medium of painting itself while exploring other issues conveyable through the act of painting. Each of these artists has developed a distinctive style and interpretation of pictorial space.

Moon Beom (b. 1955) and Kim Jiwon (b. 1961) are the most thoughtful and technically adept painters of their generation in Korea. The seemingly abstract surface of Moon Beom's painting, at times evoking elements in traditional landscape paintings, explores color, motion, time and space and the idea of landscape as a genre. The artist's ceaseless experiments, challenging the limits of pictorial expression through a painterly technique that is alternately elaborate and subtle, creates a fluid depth on the canvas where questions of modernity, timelessness and the real coexist.

Kim Jiwon's painting begins with observations of trivial scenes and objects in everyday life. Focusing on the "substance of painting" rather than the "practice of painting," and reflecting on the relationship between "seeing" and "painting," Kim's work acquires both representative and conceptual significance. The artist's persistent pursuit of "painting about painting" arrives at the essence of painting that gestures toward unusual insights and perspectives to comprehend the reality.

Taking his visual cues from lifestyle and architecture magazines and other media, Noori Lee (b. 1977) adapts found images to his own pictorial vocabulary. Deprived of any legible narrative, his canvas builds up layers between figuration and abstraction, formal stylization and mental interpretation. Through his colorful yet silent canvas, Lee questions the contemporary meaning and fantasy surrounding comfort and convenience idealized through various popular media, and the anxiety and uncertainty lurking beneath.

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