Among the special exhibitions to celebrate the opening of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, the title of the exhibition Zeitgeist Korea will determine the aspect of the Korean contemporary art . The commissioner's intention to call it Zeitgeist Korea is as in the following. First of all, I approached 'historically' to the aspect and direction of the Korean contemporary art to a certain extent. Particularly, the major streams after the Korean War are comprehended periodically, instead of being recited. Secondly, with the perspective of 'internationality' in mind, I tried to 'look back on the past' based on the premise of national, international stature of current 'Republic of Korea' regarding the art and the society. So, for that, although the commissioner would like to attract the viewer's eyes using direction, intention, effects, and etc, it's entirely the viewer's role to do so; thus it cannot be discussed anymore here in this text. Lastly, I chose the artworks with a distinct 'identity' of 'zeitgeist'. Most of the works, of course, were chosen among the Museum's collection by principle and even for that reason, it shows that the works that do not appear often in the history of Korean contemporary art are still of great importance.
In the early 1980s, the international exhibitions of figurative/narrative paintings in Italy and the United States along with German Neo-Expressionism became known as the 'Zeitgeist', and I, the commissioner borrowed the term precisely for its art historical sense. In the aspect of figurative and narrative, the artworks of the 'Zeitgeist' are very political and descriptive. There are times when the artists confuse the viewer's perspective by unhesitatingly revealing their historical 'identity' in their artworks. Because the basic attitude of 'Zeitgeist' is to deny the dry climate of art in the time of Conceptual or Abstract art like in the 1960s, and 70s' Minimalism, the issues concerning identity could be an inevitable conclusion. However, from a broad point of view, 'abstract' and 'conceptual' can also be 'zeitgeist' of reasonable form and content in that time period.
So, the artworks in the exhibition can be ramified into three groups based on my stance above: 1)Virtual 2)Abstract/Conceptual 3)Material.
'Virtual' in represents the image of figurative, the works that embodies 'zeitgeist' of pictorial 'reality'. It doesn't confine to only paintings, but also sculptures, installations, and video arts.
'Abstract/Conceptual' in literally means the works of abstract or conceptual art. It can be said that abstract art is a form of conceptual art. The abstract characteristic of art is very 'ideal' in both the Eastern and Western worlds; and also, humans have no choice but to think about 'ideals' only in a 'conceptual' way. Either conceptually positive or negative, contemporary abstract art in Korea is 'zeitgeist' which created a distinct stream in the art history of this country.
'Material' in stands for the works of 'zeitgeist' that frequently cross the line between forms and medium, which shows a cross section of the Korean contemporary art also reflecting most recent currents, especially through the diversity and expansion of material in works, which are progressive compared to conventional art.
These three contextual categories cannot tell everything about the Korean contemporary art. However, a different dynamic of the Korean contemporary art will be met, if the zeitgeist of the condition and circumstance is added. And also, Zeitgeist Korea is a paradoxical exhibition that follows the root of that dynamic in counter clockwise.