This is Kwon’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and his first solo presentation in New York.
Seeking a new alternative to the ink painting traditions that dominated Korea in the 1960s, Kwon initially dispensed with the use of ink and began to scratch at the surface of the hanji paper, creating all-over compositions of rips that emphasized the primacy of the ground. During the 1970s and early 1980s he expanded his repertoire, perforating the paper from behind and tearing it into more ragged strips. Despite the implied aggression in these gestures, the works are serenely calm and meditative. Eventually Kwon reintroduced the use of color, pouring gouache and ink with absolute precision into and around the cuts to further accentuate his mark making.
A decade older than Lee Ufan and the other artists associated with Dansaekhwa, Kwon’s practice was fundamental to the development of the movement. Though the term literally translates as “monochrome painting,” it is better understood in terms of the processes the artists employed. Variously ripping paper, dragging pencils, pushing paint, and soaking canvas, the artists manipulated the materials of painting in ways that questioned the terms by which the medium was known. Promoted in Seoul, Tokyo, and Paris, Dansaekhwa quickly became the globally recognized face of contemporary Korean art.