The Korea Artist Prize is the most prestigious award for recognized Korean artists. It is organized by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) and the SBS Foundation, and it reaches its 6thedition in 2017. The Prize promotes the quality of Korean modern art culture and impulses the presentation of works specially produced for the occasion. It supports talented artists who have excelled within the Korean contemporary art context. The prize is for living artists who display new and experimental qualities. These artists create issues and discourses that suggest a promising direction in art circles right around the world.
The Korea Artist Prize puts high priority on fair and open selection and support for artists. All of this is aimed at a practical sponsorship program that is centered around the art scene and responds to the needs of contemporary art. This year, the artists, Sunny Kim (b. 1969), Kelvin Kyungkun Park (b. 1978), Bek Hyunjin (b. 1972) and Song Sanghee (b. 1970) were selected. They are recognized for their artistic talents in Korea and abroad with works of various themes and forms such as paintings, films, and installations. The steering committee selected a group of 10 specialists who then chose the four artists. After recommending these talented artists, the four judges, all of whom were artists either from Korea or another country, went through a portfolio review and then carried out interviews at the artists’ studios. These chosen artists will display their new works at the most prominent galleries of MMCA Seoul. The jury will hold a second screening in December, through which the final winner will be announced.
At Gallery 1, Sunny Kim has organized paintings and installations under the theme of Leap in the Dark. She draws on the psychological domain regarding underlying and forgotten memories into a real space. The paintings present a “perfect image” in harmony with objects, film and sound. Bek Hyunjin’s UnemploymentBankruptcyDivorceDebtSuicide Rest Stop represents a refuge, a resting area, and a place for meditation as well as a multipurpose space. While becoming involved in a virtual scenario, or a “poem,” about a man’s life, viewers experience and complete a play on their own.
In the area (with 14-meter-high ceiling) that connects Gallery 1 with Gallery 2, Kelvin Kyungkun Park presents a crowd of robots moving uniformly with light and colors responding to their motions, under the theme of Mirror Organs. Through this, Park throws powerful questions about the condition of humans who become collective and alienated within a system. At Gallery 2, Song Sanghee delicately depicts relations between the end and formation of things through films, photographs and drawings. Together with the film Come back alive baby that talks about death and variation/expansion of rebirth based on the folk tale about a baby commander, viewers will hear unfamiliar greetings in front of the blue monochrome wall containing images of tragic explosions.