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Korea’s Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions Heat Up Ahead of Frieze Seoul By Jonathan Feel

Two of the various formative experiments that artist Kim Whan-ki attempted when he was active in New York (1963 – 1974) will be presented at the August sale from K Auction. These two works were painted in 1968 with oil on newspapers. Kim, who moved from Korea to New York, began researching and experimenting with form and color. Accordingly, he pursued painting that formed a universal consensus, not a national color. The available lots contain the results of such a formative experiment. The estimates for both works range from about $45,000 to $135,000.

Works by Korean experimental artists Kun Yong Lee, Kang-So Lee, and Bae Lee, who have recently attracted attention in Korea and are actively introduced overseas in places such as New York, are also drawing attention. In addition, works by abstract artists such as Hyong-keun Yun and Seo Bo Park, as well as works by artists such as Tschang-yeul Kim, Chong Hak Kim, Dae-won Lee, YeomSoo Hwang, Sook-Ja Lee, Kwan Nam, and Heung-Sou Kim, will find a new owner. Do Ho Suh, one of the next generation of contemporary artists, is also represented in the upcoming sale. The estimated price of his available work is between $21,000 and $37,000.

Lee Ufan’s From Winds (1982) has the highest presale estimate among K Auction entries this month. The work is estimated to fetch between $600,000 to $900,000. Most of the existing Wind series works are gray, but this work is evaluated to give a strong impression and vitality by using orange. Another of his works, With Winds (1989), with gray color, is also available with an estimated price of $150,000 to $190,000.

Yoshimoto Nara, Burst Barricade. Image courtesy of K Auction.
Yoshimoto Nara, Burst Barricade. Image courtesy of K Auction.

Foreign artists represented in these August events include two works by Japan’s neo-pop leader Yoshitomo Nara, four by Ayako Rokkaku, and four by Yayoi Kusama. Among them, Yoshimoto Nara’s Burst Barricade is viewed as a sublimation of anti-war ideas into art that the artist considered while studying in Germany. Estimates range from $190,000 to $260,000.

Both auction companies have attracted attention by presenting works by Kyung-ja Chun. K Auction presents The Dancer of Agra (1979; estimate: $22,000 – $44,000), while Seoul Auction offers The Woman from Java (1986; estimate: $186,000 – $372,000).

Leading the upcoming event from Seoul Auction is Soo-geun Park’s Return with an estimated price of about $446,000 to $595,000. In addition, works by Jik-soon Yim, Joong-sik Yoon, and In-sung Lee will be presented, as well as Yeon (1966; estimate: $335,000 – $595,000) and Work (1984; estimate: $300,000 – $450,000) by Korean abstract art master Young-guk Yoo.

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