Lehmann Maupin now representing artist Sung Neung Kyung

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Lehmann Maupin now representing artist Sung Neung Kyung
Sung Neung Kyung, Venue 2, 1980, Gelatin silver print.

HONG KONG.- Lehmann Maupin has announced their representation of pioneering Korean artist Sung Neung Kyung. Historic work by the artist—including Venue 2, will be featured as part of its booth at Art Basel Hong Kong (March 21–25).

For over five decades, Sung’s interdisciplinary practice has influenced discourses around performance, Conceptualism, and politics. He is recognized for his involvement in the avant-garde Korean art group Space and Time, an art and research collective which was active in South Korea during the politically turbulent ’70s and ’80s. The group responded to these social conditions by staking out its own ground in response to Western art and theory.

In May, Sung’s work will be prominently featured in the group exhibition Only the Young: Experimental Art in South Korea, 1960s–1970s, opening at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) and then traveling to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in September, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in early 2024.

Sung Neung Kyung (b. 1944, Yesan, South Korea, lives and works in Seoul, South Korea) works across non-traditional media, including performance, photography, and archival practices, to examine constructions of knowledge and power. Working at the intersection of representation and the real, Sung’s oeuvre intervenes in the processes of communication, dissemination, and transmission. Through his resistance to traditional discourse, he seeks to challenge and dismantle various authorities, including political and artistic canonical systems. His practice is intrinsically process-oriented and deals in ephemera, frequently involving one-off events or performances; his work is often archived as photographs or contact prints and exhibited as a variety of photographic installations.

Sung is known for his involvement in the avant-garde Korean art group Space and Time (ST), an art and study collective active throughout the 70s and 80s that responded to both Western art and theory and a period of political turmoil in South Korea. Throughout his work, Sung engages hallmarks of Conceptualism; exploring dematerialization, text-based practice, and informational aesthetics, and he reformulates Conceptual tactics for a climate of urgency and unrest. In his seminal Newspapers: After the 1st of June (1974), Sung carefully removed blocks of text from Korean newspapers with scissors, displaying the removed text alongside the cut pieces of newspaper. In his subsequent performance Reading Newspapers (1976), Sung carefully “reads” the mangled remains of the periodicals. By performatively removing discursive context from the newspapers and rearranging text to suggest potential new meanings, Sung critiques government censorship of media. As he intercepts modes of dissemination, Sung thwarts long-held notions of language and power, and he cultivates alternative channels for knowledge production.

A pioneer of the South Korean avant-garde, Sung has played a key role in expanding the hybrid performance genre in the global art historical discipline throughout his decades-long career. In his ongoing performance work, Sung engages his own body as an artistic medium—often as a direct conduit for fine arts tools like drawing utensils or a paintbrush. Self-exaggeration, excessive noise, and disorder are often key elements of these performances, highlighting the disconnect between the chaotic and messy creative process and the polished final product. Disrupting and denaturalizing the white cube space, Sung’s oeuvre often operates in the realm of institutional critique. In one such “drawing performance,” titled Ma-vi-gue-worl (1998), the artist rubs planar surfaces with shaving cream—creating a series of works from everyday material—while chanting an ancestral prayer. In his more recent performance Aluminum Foil Man (2001), Sung wraps his body in swaths of aluminum foil and has portraits taken while holding various martial arts poses. The portraits were displayed at life-size scale, along with the installation of a table made from aluminum foil, seamlessly merging art and life across material and conceptual registers. In doing so, the artist continues to challenge the boundaries of traditional media, advancing contemporary thought regarding Korean art through his trans-genre practice.

Sung received his B.F.A. from Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea, in 1967. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, South Korea (forthcoming); Baik Art, Seoul, South Korea (forthcoming); Arko Art Center, Seoul, South Korea (2001); Samduk Gallery, Daegu, South Korea (1991); Cheongpa Theater, Seoul, South Korea (1998); and Kwanhoon Gallery, Seoul, South Korea (1985).

Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Experimental Art in South Korea, 1960s–70s, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (forthcoming); Masquerade, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Gwacheon, South Korea (2022); New Acquisitions 2020, Daejeon Museum of Art, Daejeon, South Korea (2021); Catastrophe and Recovery, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Seoul, South Korea (2021); CORPUS GESTUS VOX, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan, South Korea (2021); Dear My Grandchild, Hello Museum, Seoul, South Korea (2019); The Square: Art and Society in Korea 1900–2019, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Gwacheon, South Korea (2019); Drawing: Korean Modern and Contemporary Drawings, Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2019); Awakenings: Art and Society in Asia 1960s–1990s, travelled to the National museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, South Korea; and National Gallery Singapore, Singapore (2018-19); Frames After Frames: Modern Photography Movement of Korea from 1988 to 1999, Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, South Korea (2018); Digital Promenade, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2018); Dor-raemitabul, Zaha Museum, Seoul, South Korea (2018); Renegades in Resistance and Challenge, Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, South Korea (2018); Reenacting History: Collective Actions and Everyday Gestures, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, South Korea (2017); Asian Diva: The Muse and The Monster, Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2017); Rehearsals from the Korean Avant-Garde Performance Archive, Korean Cultural Centre UK, London, United Kingdom (2017); Samramansang: From Kim Whanki to Yang Fudong, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (2017); Ha-Neul Bonpuri, Zaha Museum, Seoul, South Korea (2017); Public to Private: Photography in Korean Art since 1989, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (2016); As the Moon Waxes and Wanes, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, South Korea (2016); Living Together, Happy Together, Namsangol Hanok Village, Seoul, South Korea (2015); Closer to Contemporary Art Ⅱ – Abstract Art is Real, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan, South Korea (2013); Mapping the Realities, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2012); Jack-of-all-trades: Korean Historical Conceptual Art 1970–80s, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan, South Korea (2010), and more.

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