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The Korean Cultural Centre opens Jheon Soocheon's first solo exhibition in the UK
Game & Play, 2018. 35,000 pieces of polycarbonate, 100×100×86cm. Courtesy of the artist and the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

LONDON.- The Korean Cultural Centre is presenting the first solo exhibition in the UK of the internationally acclaimed artist Jheon Soocheon, renowned for his spectacular large-scale installations. Space of Contemplation provides a deep insight into Jheon’s experimental practice through new works that explore human emotions and desires in a social and historical context. The exhibition is programmed as part of the Korea/UK Season 2017–18.

The exhibition is centred around a series of new installations in which the artist pushes the limits of the materials he employs. The monumental installation New Wolincheongangjigok (2018) consists of 1,000 stainless steel super mirrors and is inspired by the lyric poem ‘Wolincheongangjigok’ (One moon is reflected in thousands of rivers), written by King Sejong in approximately 1449 during the Joseon Dynasty. In the poem, the King praises Buddha’s mercy in letting the soul of his deceased Queen rest. Jheon reinterprets this historical story from a contemporary perspective to represent the sorrowful hearts of ordinary people.

A second installation, Game & Play (2018), made from more than 35,000 pieces of transparent polycarbonate that collectively form a cube, uses dice as a metaphor for the human desire to play. Jheon believes this desire manifests itself not only in games but also through interaction, competition and collaboration in politics, society, culture, religion, and philosophy.

Recent charcoal drawings on paper from his Space series (2017–18) are also shown in the exhibition. These works encourage viewers to tacitly talk to themselves or meditate for a few moments. The exhibition becomes an interactive space for contemplation, where audiences are invited to experience a space in between the virtual and the real, the past and the present, and to reflect on modern social phenomena.

Jheon’s practice since the late 1970s has spanned a wide range of media including painting, video, performance and installation. The artist built an international reputation for his installations of clay figures and neon tubes in the 1990s and his experimental line drawings in nature in the following decade. He has been a central figure of Korean contemporary art since winning the ‘Menzion d’onore’ for his installation Tou: Mother-Land for Korea’s inaugural pavilion at the 46th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia (1995) and subsequently being chosen as the ‘Artist of the Year’ by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in 1997.

The artist’s work has often raised questions about the relationship between human existence and modern civilisation and the interaction of people and the environment. His critically-acclaimed project The Moving Drawing of Jheon Soocheon: The line that crosses America (2005) saw a train wrapped in white fabric travel 5,500km from New York to Los Angeles, becoming a metaphor for Jheon’s brush as it performed immense drawings through the American landscape. His new works shown at KCCUK demonstrate how the artist has turned his focus to combining constructed and deconstructed materials, while continuing to explore these overarching ideas.

“Jheon Soocheon is one of Korea’s premier artists and we are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce his work in the UK for the first time. His intriguing meditations on human existence and spirituality hold universal relevance and we hope that visitors will enjoy experiencing the unique power of his installations.” – Dr Je Yun Moon, Curator

Jheon Soocheon was born in Seoul in 1947, studied at Wako University, Tokyo in 1981 for a BA and MA in Painting, and graduated from the Pratt Institute, New York in 1986 with an MFA in Painting. He worked as a professor for the Academy of Art, at the Korea National University of Arts between 1997 and 2011.

He has been a central figure of Korean contemporary art since he was awarded the ‘Menzion d’onore’ at the 46th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia (1995). He has exhibited his work internationally including Reading Beyond Barcodes, White Box Gallery, New York (2008); The Moving Drawing of Jheon Soocheon: The Line That Crosses America From New York to Los Angeles, USA (2005); Reality in Time, Espace Landowski, Paris (2000), and Meditation Space, the 23rd Sao Paulo Biennale (1996), alongside numerous solo and group exhibitions in Korea. His works are in the permanent collections of major museums and public spaces including the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Tokyo The National Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Korea, and Seoul City Hall, Korea, among many others.

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